George Washington Papers

Memorandum from Thomas Jefferson, 28 February 1793

Memorandum from Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] ⟨Feb. 28. 1793⟩1


Samuel Cooper Johonnet of Massachusets to be Consul for the U.S. at the port of Demarara and for all parts under the same allegiance in America as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice Consul of the U.S. within the same allegiance.2

Malaga. [ ] [ ] to be Consul for the U.S. at the port of Malaga in the kingdom of Spain, and for such other parts of the said kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the U.S. within the same allegiance.

the Candidates are3

Michael Murphy (of Ireland). see letters of mister Viar mister Leamy.4

Wm Kirkpatrick (of Scotland) see letter of mister Cabot5

Wm Douglas Brodie see letter of Willing Morris & Swanwick6

The President will be pleased to decide between the three above candidates for Malaga.7

AD[S], DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ADS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers. Tobias Lear docketed the AD[S] as “From The Secretary of State March 1st 1793.”

1The date, along with Jefferson’s signature, is missing from the AD[S], but it appears under Jefferson’s signature in the letterpress copy.

2Boston native Samuel Cooper Johonnet (1768–1806) graduated from Harvard in 1783, after which he spent some time in France and Switzerland before returning to Massachusetts to study law and then settling in Portland, Maine. After a brief return to Boston in 1791, Johonnet emigrated to the British colony of Demerara (part of present-day Guyana), where he remained until his death. See also note 3.

3On the next line Jefferson wrote and then struck out “Samuel Cooper Johonnett. see mister Thayer’s letter.” Massachusetts congressman George Thatcher, in his letter to Jefferson of 23 Feb. 1793, wrote that Johonnet “speaks the French Language with unusual ease . . . I believe he is also acquainted with the Spanish & Italian Languages.” According to Thatcher, Johonnet went to Demerara to engage “in the Commercial Line” (DLC:GW).

4Irish native Michael Murphy (d. 1799) emigrated to Spain in 1753, became a Spanish citizen, and eventually settled in Málaga, where he changed his last name to Morphy. For the letters recommending Morphy, see Spanish ambassador José Ignacio de Viar to Jefferson, 25 Feb., and Philadelphia merchant John Leamy to Jefferson, 27 Feb. 1793. See also Morphy’s letter of application to the U.S. Congress of 11 Nov. 1791. All these letters are in DLC:GW.

5Senator George Cabot of Massachusetts recommended Málaga merchant William Kirkpatrick in a letter to GW of 29 Jan. 1791. For previous consideration of Kirkpatrick for this appointment, see Jefferson to GW, 23 Feb. 1791, and note 1.

6The Philadelphia mercantile firm of Willing, Morris, and Swanwick had recommended William Douglas Brodie, presumedly a resident of Málaga and possibly a British citizen, in a letter to Jefferson of 8 Sept. 1791 (DLC:GW; printed in Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 22:137).

7On 1 Mar., Jefferson composed for GW another version of this memorandum which consists only of the first two paragraphs, with the insertion of “Michael Murphy” and “Malaga” in the blank spaces, and which Jefferson signed and dated “Mar. 1. 1793.” A second memorandum on the same page reads: “Amsterdam James Greenleaf of Massachusets Consul for the US. at the port of Amsterdam in the United Netherlands, and for all parts of the said United Netherlands which shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice Consul of the US. within the same United Netherlands.” Jefferson also signed this second memorandum and dated it “Mar. 1 1793.” Both of these memoranda are letterpress copies, and the dual signatures and dates suggest that the originals were two separate documents (DLC: Jefferson Papers). For an earlier recommendation of Greenleaf for a diplomatic appointment in the Netherlands, see Thomas Dawes to GW, 25 May 1789. For GW’s nomination of Johonnet, Morphy, and Greenleaf as U.S. consuls, see his letter to the U.S. Senate of 1 Mar. 1793 (first letter).

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