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To Thomas Jefferson from William Heath, 25 February 1801

From William Heath

Massachusetts Roxbury (near Boston) Febry. 25th 1801


Although I have not the honour of an intimate acquaintance with you,—I am too well acquainted with your true character, and ardent love for the best interests of our Common Country, and of mankind, not to felicitate my fellow Citizens on your elevation, or refrain from expressing to you, those feelings of satisfaction, and that confidence which is inspired in my breast on the present occasion, and to intreat you, to be pleased to accept, my most sincere congratulations on your advancment to the Presidency of the Union.

You are called Sir, to this important and high station, at a moment on some accounts, difficult and embarrassing, but no One knows better than you do, the present tone of the public pulse, in all its members, or that line of true policy, wisdom and Justice, which will lead to your own honour, and satisfaction, as well as the prosperty and happiness of your Country.—Your own enlightned understanding and calm deliberation, will be an inexhaustable source at hand on every emergence.

The arduous struggle for the Liberties and Independence of our Country, cost me, the prime of my life, hence you will readily conceive, how important, and dear, their defence and preservation are held in my estimation, and how pleasing the reflection when assured, that their sacred portals are guarded, by faithful, and friendy centinels.

I am now growing an Old man, and my glass is nearly run; but permit me to assure you Sir, that my remaining small abilities, and influence, shall be exerted in this quarter, to aid and support your administration.

Wishing you a Continuation of health, and an administration honorable and satisfactory to yourself, advantageous, and acceptable to your Country.

I have the honor to be with the most profound respect Sir Your very humble Servant

W. Heath

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Honorable Thomas Jefferson Vice President of the United States, & President Elect”; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Mch. 1801 and so recorded in SJL.

William Heath (1737–1814), a farmer and native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was commissioned in the Massachusetts militia and served as a brigadier and major general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and as a state senator in the 1790s. He became a Jefferson supporter in large part because of his views on the federal government’s power to tax. Heath was defeated for Congress in 1798 by Harrison Gray Otis and was elected lieutenant governor in 1806, but refused to serve (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends , DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

TJ replied on 8 Mch. 1801: “I was honoured with your favor of Feb. 26. and return you my thanks for the friendly congratulations, and the expressions of personal regard contained in it. it is indeed a subject of mutual congratulation that the spirit of our revolution, which for a time appeared to be extinguishing, has at length rekindled under circumstances which promise to continue. … we are to rejoice in the triumph of old principles. … if we succeed, we shall be a shining example for imitat[ion]” (PrC in DLC; faint and blurred; at foot of text: “Genl. Heath”).

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