Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 9 October 1816

To James Monroe

Monticello Oct. 9. 16.

Dear Sir

A mr Armistead,1 who married a neice of our governor, who is brother to the Colo Armistead2 that defended the fort at Baltimore and of one or two other officers of great merit lost in the service, and who is reduced to poverty by unsuccesful commerce, wishes to get bread for his family as clerk in an office at Washington. he is represented as a very worthy man and entirely competent to the business. if a vacancy should happen within your gift I believe you would acquire an useful servant in him. I wish this the more in your office because it would tend to restore dispositions between two characters which ought never to have been alienated. between3 persons so reasonable as yourself and the Governor it is impossible either can be in the wrong. the one, or the other, or perhaps both, must therefore have acted properly, but on wrong information. I have often wished I could be the mediator of restoring a right understanding but, as unsuccesful essays sometimes make things worse, I have feared a formal step towards it. yet you are both made to esteem one another, and esteem is so much sweeter to both parties than it’s contrary, that you should both open yourselves to it. should there be any present vacancy, I should value it the more as it would furnish you an occasion of shewing to my other friend what I know myself,4 how much you are above every thing which is not generous and frank. this object, more than any other, has induced me to the present sollicitation. God bless and preserve you for the eight years to come especially.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NN: Monroe Papers); at foot of text: “James Monroe”; endorsed by Monroe. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of William Short to TJ, 18 July 1816; endorsed by TJ.

Monroe and our governor, Wilson Cary Nicholas, became alienated during the 1808 presidential campaign. In June of that year Nicholas, who supported James Madison for the Republican nomination, published a harshly worded circular to his congressional constituents questioning Monroe’s competence as a diplomat. Later in 1808 he called in a personal loan in such a way, Monroe thought, as was intended to inconvenience him. Despite TJ’s efforts the rift between the two men was never entirely healed (Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity [1971], 275–6; Noble E. Cunningham Jr., ed., Circular Letters of Congressmen to Their Constituents, 1789–1829 [1978], 2:601–16). TJ correctly anticipated that Monroe would be president for the eight years to come.

1Manuscript: “Armstead.”

2Manuscript: “Armstead.”

3TJ here canceled “such.”

4Manuscript: “mysef.”

Index Entries

  • Armistead, Ann (Anne) Cary Norton (wife of William Armistead [ca.1773–1840]) search
  • Armistead, George; War of1812service of search
  • Armistead, William (ca.1773–1840); family of search
  • Armistead, William (ca.1773–1840); seeks federal appointment search
  • Baltimore, Md.; defense of search
  • Fort McHenry (Md.); War of1812defense of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Monroe, James; and W. C. Nicholas search
  • Monroe, James; letters to search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and appointment for W. Armistead search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and J. Monroe search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); family of search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search
  • War of1812; defense of Baltimore search