Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Goodman, Joseph Reed, Isaac Boyer, and William J. Duane to Thomas Jefferson, 6 August 1817

From John Goodman, Joseph Reed, Isaac Boyer, and William J. Duane

Phila August 6, 1817.


After having so long and so faithfully served your country,1 it ought to have been the desire of its friends that you should enjoy the happiness and tranquillity, which you sought by a voluntary retirement from political life. We perceive, with regret, however, that persons, who profess to revere your character and to respect your wishes,2 have on a late occasion done violence to both.

Enclosed we send to you, Sir, extracts from news-papers published in this state, in which great freedom is taken with your name and reputation: We transmit them, not because we place the least reliance in the assertions, which they contain, but, because, such is the estimation in which you are held, that even a doubt of what may be your sentiments is favorable to those who excite it, for their own purposes.

It is our desire, and we hope that we make no improper request when we ask, that you will have the goodness to say,3 whether there is any foundation for the assertion which the enclosed extracts convey to the public.

With sincere respect and consideration Yr Obt Sts
Jno Goodman
Jos: Reed
I Boyer
W. J. Duane.

RC (DLC); in Duane’s hand, signed by Goodman, Reed, Boyer, and Duane; dateline adjacent to first signature; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received <18> 19 Aug. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Printed in Kline’s Weekly Carlisle Gazette, 18 Sept. 1817. Enclosures: (1) “Extract of a letter from Virginia,” with dateline of 13 July 1817, reprinted from Chambersburg, Pa., Franklin Republican, 29 July 1817, describing a fictional 11 July 1817 visit to Monticello during which the author reported hearing TJ “express [his] anxious wish for the success of the democratic [re]publican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvani[a] as he says he has no opinion of tool or turnab[out] politicians just to serve their own aggrand[ise]ment” (undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, in DLC: TJ Papers, 210:37555a; edge trimmed, with missing text supplied from TJ’s response of [22] Aug. 1817). (2) Newspaper account of a 4 Aug. 1816 meeting in the New Market Ward of Philadelphia of the supporters of Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate William Findlay, condemning the caucus in Carlisle that nominated Findlay’s opponent Joseph Hiester as “a most daring and impudent attempt to deceive the people and lead them astray from correct republican principles”; labeling Hiester a “political deserter” and “traitor to the cause of democracy”; expressing approval of “the sentiments of Thomas Jefferson, Esqr. late president of the U States—that firm and undeviating democrat who penn-ed the declaration of independence, relative to the election of Joseph Heister, that he has no opinion of tools and turnabout politicians just to serve their own aggrandizement”; and vowing to employ all honorable means to support Findlay’s election (clipping, from unidentified issue of Philadelphia Democratic Press, in DLC: TJ Papers, 210:37555a).

John Goodman (1763–1851), public official, was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and educated at the Germantown Academy. He was present with the Continental army at the Battle of Trenton in 1776. From 1803–06 Goodman sat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Governor Thomas McKean appointed him a justice of the peace for Philadelphia County on the termination of his term as representative, and he served in this position until about 1833. Goodman became a notary public for Philadelphia County in 1809, working in this capacity until about 1842, and he was appointed prothonotary of the district court in 1822. During the War of 1812 he served as a colonel commanding a militia unit and as secretary of Philadelphia’s Committee of Defence. Between 1835–37 Goodman was an alderman. He retired from business about 1843, and he owned real estate valued at $22,000 seven years later. Goodman died in Philadelphia (Henry Simpson, The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians [1859], 428–31; Philadelphia city directories; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 29 Aug. 1814; DNA: RG 29, CS, Philadelphia, 1850; Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette, 25 Mar. 1851).

Joseph Reed (1772–1846), attorney and public official, was born in Philadelphia, studied briefly at the Moravian School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1792 from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Soon after that he began practicing law in Philadelphia, and he was appointed clerk of the city’s court of quarter sessions in 1796. Reed served as prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania beginning about 1806, Philadelphia city solicitor in 1810, state attorney general, 1810–11, and city recorder, 1810–29. He retired from the law about 1829. Reed edited volumes 6–10 of The Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1822–44), covering the statutes of the legislative sessions between 1812–13 and 1829–30. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1816. Reed died in Philadelphia (Princetonians description begins James McLachlan and others, eds., Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary, 1976–90, 5 vols. description ends , 1791–94, pp. 211–7; Philadelphia Minerva, 12 Nov. 1796; John Hill Martin, Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia [1883], 83, 88, 97, 188–9, 305; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 9 Jan. 1816 [MS in PPAmP]; Philadelphia North American, 6 Mar. 1846).

Isaac Boyer (ca. 1773–1821), merchant, was working as a grocer in Philadelphia by 1799 as a partner in the firm of Boyer & Morton. After this company dissolved in 1800, Boyer continued to operate a grocery business and in 1809 was a partner in the firm of Boyer & Wilt. He continued as a merchant for the remainder of his life. Boyer commanded a militia regiment in 1815–16, ran unsuccessfully for state senator in 1815, and served on Philadelphia’s Select Council, 1819–20. He died in Philadelphia (Cornelius William Stafford, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1799 [Philadelphia, 1799], 24; Philadelphia Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, 29 Aug. 1800; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 11 Feb. 1806, 29 Aug. 1809, 2 Feb. 1811, 12 Oct. 1815; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1807 [Philadelphia, 1807]; Philadelphia Tickler, 18 Sept. 1811; Philadelphia Weekly Aurora, 10 Oct. 1815, 21 Sept. 1816; Journal of the twenty fifth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Harrisburg, 1814], 374 [13 Feb. 1815]; Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Harrisburg, 1816], 221; John Bioren, Bioren’s Pennsylvania Pocket Remembrancer, for the year 1819 [Philadelphia, (1818)]; Bioren, Bioren’s Pennsylvania Pocket Remembrancer for the year 1820 [Philadelphia, (1819)]; The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1821 [Philadelphia, 1821]; Robert Desilver, The Philadelphia Index, or Directory, for 1823 [Philadelphia, 1823]; Boston Commercial Gazette, 28 June 1821).

William John Duane (1780–1865), attorney and public official, was the son of the publisher and TJ correspondent William Duane. The younger Duane was born in Clonmel, Ireland, and grew up there and in London. The Duane family moved to Philadelphia in 1796, where Duane worked in his father’s various printing concerns there until 1806. He then became a paper merchant. Duane served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1809, 1812, and 1819. He began to study law in 1812 and was admitted to the bar three years later. From 1820–23 he served as prosecuting attorney for the mayor’s court of Philadelphia, and in 1829 he was elected to the city’s Select Council. In 1831 President Andrew Jackson appointed Duane a commissioner under a treaty with Denmark, and in 1833 he served briefly as secretary of the treasury before Jackson dismissed him for refusing to withdraw government deposits from the Second Bank of the United States without congressional consent. He died in Philadelphia (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Biographical Memoir of William J. Duane [1868]; Martin, Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia, 264; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 4:170, 172 [2, 3 Mar. 1831]; Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette, 27 Sept. 1865; gravestone inscription in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia).

An “Independent Republican Convention” in Carlisle nominated Hiester for governor of Pennsylvania on 4 Mar. 1817. Goodman, Reed, Boyer, Duane, and John W. Thompson were chosen to represent the city and county of Philadelphia on a statewide “grand committee of correspondence” to advance his cause (Philadelphia Weekly Aurora, 10 Mar. 1817).

1Kline’s Weekly Carlisle Gazette: “the republic.”

2Kline’s Weekly Carlisle Gazette: “virtues.”

3Preceding eight words not in Kline’s Weekly Carlisle Gazette.

Index Entries

  • Boyer, Isaac; and politics in Pa. search
  • Boyer, Isaac; identified search
  • Boyer, Isaac; letter from search
  • Duane, William John; and Pa. politics search
  • Duane, William John; identified search
  • Duane, William John; letter from search
  • Findlay, William; as Pa. gubernatorial candidate search
  • Franklin Republican (Chambersburg, Pa., newspaper) search
  • Goodman, John; and Pa. politics search
  • Goodman, John; identified search
  • Goodman, John; letter from search
  • Hiester, Joseph; as Pa. gubernatorial candidate search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; fictional visit to search
  • newspapers; Chambersburg, Pa.,Franklin Republican search
  • newspapers; publish false TJ quotes search
  • Pennsylvania; elections in search
  • Reed, Joseph (1772–1846); and Pa. politics search
  • Reed, Joseph (1772–1846); identified search
  • Reed, Joseph (1772–1846); letter from search
  • Republican party; in Pa. search
  • Thompson, John W.; on Republican committee of correspondence search