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William Plumer to Thomas Jefferson, 27 April 1810

From William Plumer

Epping (N.H) April 27. 1810

My dear Sir,

When I had the honor of communicating to you, at the city of Washington, my intention of compiling the history of our country from its discovery by Columbus to the present time, you was pleased to assure me that after your Presidential term should expire, you would transmit me a number of manuscript & other documents in your possession, in relation to the great events in which you have been so distinguished an actor. All my leisure hours are devoted to collecting & arranging materials for my history—I consider it as the principal object of my future life. And any document or information you may please to communicate will be gratefully acknowledged.

Permit me though late, but sincerely, to congratulate you on the success of republicanism in this State in the last month’s elections. The Governor & a majority of the Council, Senate & house of Representatives are real republicans. Your & my worthy friend John Langdon is governor-elect. To effect these elections, I devoted two months of my time in writing for the public journals; & it affords me much satisfaction that my labours were not in vain—though it diverted too much of my time from my historical pursuits.

The governor & lieutenant governor of Massachusetts will be republicans; but I fear a majority of their senate will be federal—their representatives are not yet elected. The Rhode Island elections have terminated highly favourable in all the branches of their government.

This encrease of republicanism in the eastern states must afford, at this eventful era, great satisfaction to every friend to our republican institutions; & certainly to [no]1 one more than to yourself—who have devoted so large a portion of your active life in their formation, support & defence.

I am with sentiments of much respect and esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant

William Plumer

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 May 1810 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DLC: Plumer Papers); in Plumer’s hand.

William Plumer (1759–1850), a native of Massachusetts, spent most of his life in New Hampshire, where he was admitted to the bar in 1787, sat in the state legislature, and served in the United States Senate, 1802–07, beginning as a Federalist but gradually shifting to a moderate Republican stance. His private journal of congressional proceedings was published posthumously. Plumer was governor of New Hampshire, 1812–13 and 1816–19, by which time he was a staunch Republican. He cast the lone dissenting electoral vote against James Monroe in 1820. Plumer maintained a friendly correspondence with TJ during the latter’s retirement (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Lynn W. Turner, William Plumer of New Hampshire, 1759–1850 [1962]).

Plumer eventually wrote approximately two thousand short biographies of acquaintances and historical figures as well as his unfinished history of our country (Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic [2001], 262–82, 342–4). TJ evidently made an oral promise about 1807 to transmit material to Plumer after leaving office (Plumer to TJ, 25 Mar. 1808 [DLC]). Following the election, the Massachusetts senate consisted of twenty Federalists and twenty Republicans. In rhode island Republicans won the lieutenant governorship, six senate seats, and the clerkship of the state house of representatives (Washington National Intelligencer, 11 May, 8 June 1810).

1Omitted word supplied from FC.

Index Entries

  • Columbus, Christopher; and W. Plumer’s proposed book search
  • Federalist party; electoral defeats search
  • Gerry, Elbridge (1744–1814); as governor of Mass. search
  • Gray, William; as Mass. lieutenant governor search
  • historiography; of U.S. search
  • Langdon, John; elected governor search
  • Massachusetts; elections in search
  • New Hampshire; elections in search
  • Plumer, William; historical and biographical writings of search
  • Plumer, William; identified search
  • Plumer, William; letters from search
  • Republican party; electoral successes search
  • Rhode Island; elections in search
  • United States; historiography of search