Thomas Jefferson Papers
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John Norvell to Thomas Jefferson, 5 March 1809

From John Norvell

Washington City March 5. [1809]

Venerable Sir,

Your liberality and goodness will pardon the liberty I take in addressing this note to you.

Believing that if you can be satisfied of my reputation and real character as a moral and honest young man, and of my competency to fill the situation of a clerk in one of the departments, you will be kind enough to interest yourself in my favor, I beg leave to solicit your patronage, in procuring a clerkship for me in the navy, war, treasury, or state department. One of a common or inferior nature would be acceptable: because I think that my conduct in a short time would insure promotion.

The honorable Mr. Boyle, from Kentucky, was so obliging last evening as to mention this subject to me, and to offer me any aid in his power to forward my interest. He will leave the city on Tuesday morning: and I should be very thankful, if you should deem it right to give an immediate answer, in order that I may be enabled to give any satisfaction as to my conduct character or qualifications, which may be desired. The honorable gentleman is well acquainted, not only with myself, but with my father and all his family.

I can give additional satisfaction as to my moral character and rectitude from some of the most respectable gentleman of this city; particularly from captain Davidson.

Be pleased to accept, venerable patriot and fellow citizen, the assurances of my profound regard.

John Norvell.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17); partially dated; in left-hand margin: “Thomas Jefferson, Esq.”; endorsed by State Department clerk Daniel Brent: “John Norvell asks for a clerkship.” Recorded in SJL as received 6 Mar. 1809 with the notation: “emplomt.”

John Norvell (1789–1850), printer, was a native of Kentucky who later edited the Baltimore Whig (1813–14), Baltimore Patriot (1815–17), Lexington Kentucky Gazette (1817–19), Philadelphia Franklin Gazette (1819–28; from 1824 as Aurora and Franklin Gazette), and Philadelphia Pennsylvania Inquirer (1829–31). Admitted to the Maryland bar in 1814, in 1831 he became the postmaster of Detroit, and he served as one of Michigan’s first United States senators, 1837–41 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, 1989 description ends ; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:245, 251–2, 2:907; Washington National Intelligencer, 27 Sept. 1832).

Index Entries

  • Boyle, John J. search
  • Brent, Daniel; as State Department clerk search
  • Davidson, Capt. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Norvell, John; identified search
  • Norvell, John; seeks TJ’s recommendation search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • State Department, U.S.; clerks at search