James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Paul Hamilton, 4 December 1809

From Paul Hamilton

Navy Department 4 Decr 1809


The death of Mr Keith Spence, late navy agent at New Orleans, having been duly notified to this Department, the public interests require that an immediate appointment be made to that vacancy; and as in that distant agency it is peculiarly necessary that the officer should possess a thorough knowledge of the business which will be confided to him, I beg leave to recommend, to be nominated to that station, Mr John K Smith,1 of the District of Columbia, who from an intimate acquaintance with the transactions of this Department, & his ability & fidelity manifested during a connection of some years with it, affords a well grounded expectation, that the duties of the above agency, if entrusted to him, will be performed to the advantage of the public. I have the honor to be, Sir, most respectfully Yrs.

Paul Hamilton

RC (DLC); letterbook copy (DNA: RG 45, LSP). RC in Goldsborough’s hand, signed by Hamilton; docketed by JM.

1John K. Smith had recently served as a Navy Department clerk. The act of 3 Mar. 1809 regulating the treasury, war, and navy departments authorized the president to appoint navy agents for “making contracts, or for the purchase of supplies, or for the disbursement … of monies for … the navy.” On 7 Mar. JM appointed Keith Spence to the post at New Orleans. After Spence died, JM nominated Smith on the same day that Hamilton recommended him, and the Senate confirmed him on 6 Dec. Despite Gallatin’s reservations concerning his appointment, Smith was still serving in 1816 (Cunningham, The Process of Government under Jefferson, p. 330; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America ... (17 vols.; Boston, 1848-73). description ends , 2:536; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 2:120, 129; Gallatin to JM, 22 Dec. 1809; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 2:351).

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