Thomas Jefferson Papers

Republicans of Georgetown to Thomas Jefferson, 6 March 1809

From the Republicans of Georgetown

George Town March 6th 1809


The republicans and friends of the late administration, of George Town, animated by the purest sentiments of gratitude and affection, beg leave to express to you those emotions inspired by the interesting crisis of your departure from public life.

Devoted as you have been for so long a period of time, to the service of your country, endeared by your unceasing cares for our national prosperity, can we reflect on your retirement from public duty without feelings of the liveliest nature! But Sir, your country can demand no more. You have contributed your share to the public weal. At the shrine of patriotism, long have you1 sacrificed domestic ease and quiet.

When we reflect on the various & trying scenes thro which you have passed, from the dawn of our national existence to the present period; your unremitted exertions to promote the happiness of your country, and the signal success with which your labors have been crowned, we feel a reverential gratitude to that providence, who has conferred on us such an instrument of his favor:

In reviewing your long political career, from its commencement to the concluding scene, in the many and high departments you have filled, in times of war, and in times of peace, it is a matter of triumph to your fellow citizens, that you have ever pursued one undeviating course; in no instance, have you departed from those sublime principles, proclaimed by that charter, which declared our independence as a nation. Justice, moderation, and philanthropy have been the distinguishing characteristics of your public conduct, and in your late arduous and exalted station, your talents and virtues have shone with undiminished splendor:

To preserve peace, to promote agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, to diminish public burthens, to cement the union, and to perpetuate the rights and liberties of your country, these have been the grand objects of your unwearied efforts; Nor can we forget the enlargement of our empire, by the acquisition of territory incalculable in value.

Such has been your administration; May your successors profit by the illustrious example!

While we regret that your just and liberal policy has not exempted us from the rapacity of foreign nations, actuated solely by interest and ambition, we feel assured that no American2 will hesitate to rally round the standard of his insulted country in defence of that freedom and independence, atchieved by the wisdom of sages, and consecrated by the blood of heroes.

With proud exultation we reflect that our country has produced patriots, whose memories will be inscribed in the temple of fame, among those immortal benefactors of man, who have delighted to employ their lives in mitigating the evils, and advancing the happiness of the human race: In this number Sir, Your name will stand eminently conspicuous.

In contimplating your domestic virtues and social qualities, the picture tho less dazzling is equally pleasing. Benevolence, generosity, and charity, those amiable ornaments of the human character, have been displayed by you in their fullest lustre, and those best acquainted with your private walks, are your most ardent and sincere admirers.

The applause of a grateful people, that brightest of rewards, will follow you to the shades of retirement, while the recollection of the past, and the prospect of the future will enliven your declining days.

Before we conclude the valedictory tribute, accept the genuine effusions of our hearts; May many years of health and happiness be yet in store for you! May you long enjoy that exalted felicity resulting from conscious rectitude, and may the evening of your life be as serene and tranquil, as its meridian has been resplendent & glorious.

J: Mason Chairman

Danl Reintzel Secretary

MS (DLC); in Reintzel’s hand, signed by Mason and Reintzel; at foot of text: “To Thomas Jefferson Esquire”; endorsed by TJ as an “Address repub. Geo.T.” received 7 Mar. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Printed with proceedings of meeting in Washington National Intelligencer, 13 Mar. 1809.

This address resulted from a public meeting at Semme’s Tavern in Georgetown on this date. A committee consisting of Mason, Reintzel, Joseph Nourse, Alexander Scott, and Richard Parrott drafted it, after which the meeting unanimously approved it; ordered that it be presented to TJ by Mason, Mayor Thomas Corcoran, Scott, Parrott, and Tench Ringold; and voted that the address and TJ’s reply be published.

John Mason (1766–1849), son of Virginia statesman George Mason, lived on Mason’s Island (also known as Analostan or Barbadoes Island), in the Potomac River. Mason was a merchant and banker who served as brigadier general of the Washington militia after 1802 and commissary general of prisoners during the War of 1812. A member of the Columbian Agricultural Society for the Promotion of Rural and Domestic Economy, he was also involved in breeding merino sheep (Robert Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 1725–1792 [1970], 1:lxxvii; Mary E. Curry, “Theodore Roosevelt Island: A Broken Link to Early Washington D.C. History,” RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895– description ends 48 [1971/72]: 20–1; Washington National Intelligencer, 21 Mar. 1849). Daniel Reintzel (ca. 1754–1828) served as mayor of Georgetown in 1796, 1799–1804, and 1806–07. In 1812 James Madison appointed him justice of the peace for Washington County, District of Columbia (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:303, 306 [12, 23 Nov. 1812]; Washington National Intelligencer, 22 Nov. 1828).

1Reintzel here canceled “laboured.”

2Manuscript: “Amecan.”

Index Entries

  • agriculture; Columbian Agricultural Society search
  • Columbian Agricultural Society for the Promotion of Rural and Domestic Economy; members of search
  • Corcoran, Thomas search
  • Georgetown, D.C.; Republicans of, address TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; administration supported search
  • Madison, James; and appointments search
  • Mason, John (of Georgetown); chairs meeting of Georgetown Republicans search
  • Mason, John (of Georgetown); identified search
  • merino sheep; and J. Mason search
  • National Intelligencer (Washington newspaper); prints TJ’s correspondence search
  • Nourse, Joseph search
  • Parrott, Richard search
  • Reintzel, Daniel; and meeting of Georgetown Republicans search
  • Reintzel, Daniel; identified search
  • Republican party; of Georgetown, D.C. search
  • Ringgold, Tench search
  • Scott, Alexander search