Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from John Mitchell, 9 May 1803

From John Mitchell

Havre 9h. May 1803

Sir

I have now the Honor to cover you a Letter from Mr. Livingston and take Advantage of the Occasion to solisit the favor of your Confirming the appointment our Ministers at Paris have made in nameing Me to the Commercial Agency for this place.

It is now two years past since I solisited this appointment, and I believe in conformity to my request Mr. Monroe Mr. McKean Govr. of Pennsylvania and some other of my friends did recomend me. to the latter I have been known almost from My Infancy—to the former for many years and perticularly so While he was at Paris also to Genl. S. Smyth & Mr. T. Paine throughout the Whole of our Revolution and to this time. to them and the Commercial interest of Philada. I venture to refer for my Character—’tho the Confidence placed in me by Mr. Livingston in sending Me his despatches to forward ever since my being established here—and now appointing Me Agent for the U.S. will alone I flatter myself be a suffitient recomendation for your favor to Confirm the appointment

I feel Confident of giveing satisfaction to our Goverment as well as the Commercial interest of our Country—my best endeavours shall be Used to merit your Confidence and favor—and with the most perfect respect—I beg leave for to subscribe my self—Sir,

Your very Obedient and Very Humble Servant

John Mitchell

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqe President of the United States of America Washington”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 11 July; endorsed by TJ as received 13 July and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Robert R. Livingston to TJ, 2 May.

John Mitchell was originally from Philadelphia. In the fall of 1803, TJ gave him a commission as vice commercial agent at Le Havre and the Senate confirmed the appointment on 15 Dec. Mitchell was back in the United States by August 1808, when he solicited another nomination from TJ. In 1811, Mitchell received an appointment as consul at Santiago, Cuba, but the Spanish government refused to allow any foreign officials on the island. In the War of 1812, he was agent for Americans held prisoner at Halifax (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 , 1:459, 460; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 2:140; 5:475; Pres. Ser., 5:612n; 6:529n, 644n; Preston, Catalogue description begins Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends , 1:215, 240; Mitchell to TJ, 5 Aug. 1808).

appointment our ministers at paris have made: Mitchell began acting as vice commercial agent at Le Havre in the fall of 1802. He had applied for the consular position there in 1800. John Adams named him to be commercial agent at Ostend instead, to which the Senate consented on 24 Feb. 1801. TJ considered that nomination a midnight appointment, withheld the commission, and named someone else to the post. TJ was aware that Mitchell wanted the place at Le Havre, but in June 1801 made Peter Dobell the commercial agent and F. C. A. Delamotte the vice agent for that port. Dobell never took up residence at Le Havre, finally determining in 1802 to resign the position, and the French government declined to accept Delamotte’s appointment because he was a French citizen. Mitchell, who received endorsement from Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe to continue performing the duties of the office temporarily, wrote to Madison and Gallatin as well as to TJ to solicit the permanent appointment as commercial agent. He had made an arrangement with Isaac Cox Barnet, to whom TJ and Madison had finally offered a choice of Antwerp or Le Havre. Barnet agreed to take the consular post at Antwerp if Mitchell received a commission for Le Havre (Mitchell to John Marshall, [April 1800], in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ: “John Mitchell to be Consul at Havre or elsewhere in France”; Mitchell to Gallatin, 8 May 1803, in same, endorsed by TJ; Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 4:212; 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 , 1:382, 385; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 3:469; 4:426, 563–4, 584; 5:105–6, 475; Vol. 33:173n, 557n, 666, 672, 677; Vol. 36:470–1; Vol. 38:59–60, 295–6, 309–10, 377–8).

Mitchell went to France in 1795 with a letter of introduction to monroe, who was U.S. minister in Paris, from Secretary of State Edmund Randolph. Mitchell renewed their former acquaintance when Monroe landed at Le Havre in April 1803 (Preston, Catalogue description begins Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Westport, Conn., 2001, 2 vols. description ends , 1:44; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:499).

Thomas mckean wrote to TJ on 25 July about Mitchell’s application. That letter, which is recorded in SJL as received from Philadelphia on 1 Aug., has not been found. Writing to Gallatin on 8 May, Mitchell referred to McKean as an old friend (Mitchell to Gallatin, 8 May, in DNA: RG 59, LAR).

sending me his despatches: Livingston had begun to send his letters to the State Department through Mitchell at Le Havre (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:386n).

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