Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Brown, 18 September 1803

From James Brown

Lexington Septr. 18th. 1803

Dear Sir,

The sentiments of the Inhabitants of the western Country, respecting the purchase of Louisiana must have been fully conveyed thro’ the public prints to those who are Constitutionally authorized to ratify or reject the Cession. Considering the future peace and prosperity of our State as depending upon the decision of the next Congress, we await their determination with a degree of sollicitude which can be more easily conceived than described. Our late elections have terminated in favor of the republican interest, and we are happy in being represented by men from whom the real sense of the people can be fairly collected. On this interesting question we shall expect an exertion of all their Zeal, talent, and influence. If they shall be so fortunate as to meet with support from the republican representatives of the other States we may anticipate a favorable issue to the most important measure which has occurred in the history of our Government.

Should our hopes and wishes be reallized in the ratification of the purchase, I presume New Orleans will become a Port of Entry. Having a disposition to remove to that place, I take the liberty of expressing my wish to fill the Office of Collector of the Revenue. Of my character and qualifications to discharge the duties of the Office you can easily be correctly informed; And should you honor me with the appointment, I shall be ready to remove so soon as you may direct.

I am well aware that this application may appear premature, but when I reflect that the whole of your time will be usefully employed during the Session, I consider it better to apprize you of my wishes at a moment when you may have more leisure to attend to them

With every sentiment of respect and esteem I am Sir Your Most obt Hble Servant—

James Brown

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “The President of the United States Washington-City”; franked; postmarked 20 Sep.; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Oct. and “to be Collector N. Orleans” and so recorded in SJL.

James Brown (1766-1835) was a native of Virginia and brother of Kentucky senator John Brown. A law student of George Wythe, Brown moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1789, where he put his legal acumen to use as an attorney and a professor of law and politics at Transylvania University. TJ appointed him secretary of the Orleans Territory in 1804, and he relocated to New Orleans that same year. He declined TJ’s offer of a federal judgeship, but accepted an appointment as U.S. attorney for Orleans in 1805. His legal skills were also utilized in creating a civil code for the territory in 1806 and framing Louisiana’s first state constitution. He represented Louisiana in the U.S. Senate from 1813 to 1817 and again from 1819 to 1823, when he was appointed minister to France. Returning to America in 1829, he settled in Philadelphia, where he died (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Republicans swept the late elections to Congress in Kentucky. Reporting the returns on 4 Aug., the Frankfort Palladium assured its distant friends that the state would send “an unanimous republican representation” to Washington (Frankfort Palladium, 4, 11 Aug. 1803; New York American Citizen, 22 Aug. 1803).

Index Entries