Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Callender Irvine, 17 October 1807

Philadelphia. October 17th. 1807.


A report that, Col. Patton is, or, will be appointed to the Office of Postmaster General, lately vacated by the resignation of Mr. Granger is now in circulation here. What foundation there is for the report I know not; but, if such a change is contemplated, a desire to become the successor of Col. Patton as, Postmaster of this City, is one object with me in addressing you at this time.    For the manner in which I have perform’d the duties of the Office, you did me the honour of confering on me, may I be permitted to refer you to the head of the department under wh I actg. If, Sir, on such reference it shall appear that, I have discharged these duties faithfully & to the satisfaction of the Secty. of War, it will afford at least presumptive evidence, that I would not abuse any further confidence you might think proper to repose in me.    I am induced, to make this application, because, the salary I am in the reciept of does not enable me to afford that aid to the family of my late Father wh. your friendly consideration in bestowing the Office, seemed to contemplate—That marked friendship may now incline me to take a liberty in wh. I am not warranted. I could readily obtain, if considered requisite, the recommendation, of those whose opinions I have already had an assurance you think well of; but, as an Officer, I, with deference, consider that the opinion of those, under whom I have served, would have more weight.

Should I continue in the Office I now hold, I intend Sir, if it meets your approbation, to petition Congress to increase the salary of it. I am not an advocate for overgrown salaries, but concieve the compensation should be regulated by the responsibility of the Office & the duties to be performed—The Office I have is assuredly one of the first responsibility, the salary annexed to it exceeding very little, what is often given to a Merchants Clerk. I should not consider fifteen hundred dollars an adequate compensation for the Supt. of Stores, was he permitted to choose his place of residence.    It is true I held a small appointment given me by the Secty. of the Navy, as, I was inform’d, by your desire, but, in any event that would render it necessary to increase the present Military Establishment, I would be compelled to resign this.    It is contemplated by my instructions as Supt. of military Stores, that I should, once in every year, at the least, visit the principal deposits of public property, & report its true state to the Secty. of War. The public interest requires this, but, it is impossible to accomplish it, with a salary of 1,500 drs. a year, & there is no law authorizing the appropriation of a further sum.    I have deemed it proper to assign the reason, why I consider an increase of salary proper. Before I transmit any petition, I will notify you of my intention to do so, through the Secretary of War, for unless the measure meets your decided approbation, I will certainly give up all idea of it.

I have already, Sir, trespassed too much on your time, occupied as you must now be with matters of the most serious importance to the Union—I pray you to excuse it, & to impute the liberty I have taken in addressing you to a recollection of that friendship, wh. I well know subsisted between yourself & my late Father, & wh. you have given a convincing proof did not terminate on your part, with his dissolution.

I have the honor to be, Sir, with the most perfect respect & Esteem, Your Obliged & Obedt. Servt.

Callender Irvine

DNA: RG 59—LAR—Letters of Application and Recommendation.

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