Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Robert Smith, 19 March 1803

To Robert Smith

Monticello Mar. 19. 1803.

Dear Sir

I wrote you on the 17th. on the subject of the stores for Algiers, since which your’s of the 12th. is recieved. I thought I had spoken to mr Madison on the day of my departure on the subject of the gun carriages for the emperor of Marocco. I now write to him respecting them. I presume the date of the enlistment of the crews of our frigates in the Mediterranean should decide which of them shall remain there, unless the Commodore can out of the whole enlist one or two crews for whatever longer time you think best, suppose two years.

I am sorry for the resolution Capt Tingey has taken, because I think him a good officer. but our course is a plain one. we should decide what we think a reasonable allowance (until the legislature shall think proper to do it.) what you proposed to him appears to me reasonable. perhaps, if the British have such a post, we might find their rule a proper one, for in naval matters we can follow no better model. having fixed our allowance we must not raise or lower it for particular characters. besides the embarrassment that would occasion, it would [cover] partialities, for which we should offer no cover: and there is neither safety nor honesty but in the doing the public business by general rules without regard to [persons?]. having made up your mind as to sum, if Capt Tingey will not accept of it, then the office does not suit him, and [he declines?] as is the common case, and I shall be sorry for it, because I [. . .] that I think him a good officer. you will of course have another to [. . .], and the utmost attention should be paid to fitness of character, for indeed the office is of extreme importance. no place requires more vigilance, activity & skill. Accept my affectionate salutations.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); faint; at foot of text: “The Secretary of the Navy.” Recorded in SJL with notation “Barbary Affairs. Tingey.”

i now write to him: TJ to Madison, 19 Mch.

Writing Thomas tingey on 26 Mch., Smith informed him of the president’s opinion that the allowance proposed was reasonable “and that he laments that, unwilling to accept such compensation, you have resolved to resign.” Writing again on 7 Apr., Smith accepted Tingey’s resignation as superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard and requested that he deliver an inventory of all public property in his possession to Captain John Cassin (FCs in Lb in DNA: RG 45, MLS). Tingey, however, seems to have been retained as a fiscal agent. In March 1804, Congress revised the Peace Establishment Act of 1801 and authorized the president to attach a captain of the navy to superintend the Washington Navy Yard, with said officer receiving the pay and emoluments of a captain commanding a squadron on separate service. TJ reappointed Tingey a captain in the navy in November 1804 and he remained superintendent of the facility until his death in 1829 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:207; Henry B. Hibben, Navy-Yard. Washington. History from Organization, 1799 to Present Date [Washington, D.C., 1890], 26).

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