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To Thomas Jefferson from Tobias Lear, 26 March 1801

From Tobias Lear

Walnut Tree Farm, March 26th: 1801—

Dear Sir,

I have been this moment honored with your favor of the present date, and feel grateful for the attention you have been so good as to pay me, by an offer of the Consulship in St. Domingo; and am highly flattered by the confidence which you repose in my prudence and discretion.—But, how ever desireable such an office may be to me, either in a pecuniary point of view; or from a wish to serve my Country, I must, at present, decline it, as the situation of my own Affairs will not permit me to leave the United States immediately; for although an attention to them would not occupy my whole time; yet some part of them are so circumstanced as not to allow of my committing them, at this time, to the charge of another person.—

Although I have always avoided, as much as possible, giving recommendations for Office; yet I should do an injury to my own feelings, and perhaps injustice to my Country, not to call your attention, on this occasion, to Mr. Bartholomew Dandridge, who has lately been appointed Consul for some of the Southern Ports of St. Domingo, and in whose prudence and discretion I have as full a confidence as I have in my own.—This Gentleman, you will recollect, was in the Family of General Washington during his Presidency, and after I left him, acted as his private Secretary to the end of his Administration, when Mr. D. went to the Hague with Mr. Murry as his Secretary, and that Climate not agreeing with his health, he went to England, where he held the same place under Mr. King, ’till about 12 mos. ago, when he came to Alexandria and established himself in the mercantile line until his appointment.—He has not yet sail’d.—I recd. a letter from him dated the 15th inst. informing me that he should not sail till the middle of April.—

But I will not take up more of your time at present, as I intend being in the City on Saturday, when I will have the honor of paying my respects to you.—And, if it is not really necessary to make this appointment before that time, you will do me a favour by delaying it; for I confess if it should be possible for me to receive it I should most readily embrace it.—

Be assured, Dear Sir, of the Respect, Esteem & Attachment of Your Obliged Friend

Tobias Lear.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received on the 26th and so recorded in SJL.

Walnut tree farm, also called River Farm, was one of the plantations of Mount Vernon. George Washington’s will gave Lear lifetime tenancy of the property (Ray Brighton, The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear [Portsmouth, N.H., 1985], 166, 168).

Consulship: on 31 Mch. TJ signed a commission for Lear as consul general for the island of Santo Domingo. According to a note on the State Department’s copy of that commission, it was replaced by another certificate issued on 11 May. The second commission, following the nomenclature contained in the Convention of 1800, named Lear general commercial agent for the island (both commissions in Lb in DNA: RG 59, PTCC; in a clerk’s hand, including note in margin of 31 Mch. commission: “The Commission of which this is a copy, was suppressed and the one on the opposite page substituted”; two copies in clerks’ hands of the 11 May commission are in NHi: Robert R. Livingston Papers). In January 1802 the Senate approved Lear’s appointment (JEP, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends 1:401, 405).

Bartholomew Dandridge had received the appointment as consul for what was designated the southern district of Santo Domingo, including the ports of Cayes and Jérémie, in December 1800 (JEP, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends 1:357).

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