Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Michael Leib to Thomas Jefferson, 29 September 1811

From Michael Leib

Philadelphia Septr 29th 1811

Dear Sir,

Your recommendation would at all times be a sufficient inducement to me to patronize any one who was favord with it; and the extension of your good opinion to Joseph Dougherty has secured mine. It will add much to my gratification to be in any manner instrumental in the promotion of any wish of yours whether public or private.

The times are inauspicious, not only to the nation, but to some meritorious individuals— My friend Col. Duane seems to be the devoted victim of persecution at various seasons— For a paragraph published in the Aurora, furnished by the late Dr Reynolds, whilst a member of the board of health, and therefore, in some sort official, he has been mulcted, under the direction of a tory judge, Yates, and a federal jury, in the sum of eight hundred dollars and costs of suit. This, with the pressure of the U.S. Bank influence upon his affairs and other party causes, bear very heavy upon him, and call for the interposition of the friends of the freedom of the press and of the able and useful editor of the Aurora. I have not forgotten your offer of kind offices on a former occasion, and therefore, feel free to suggest to you, that they will be useful and acceptable on this occasion; more especially as he is to defend himself in the next Circuit court of the U.S. against the charge of a libel on Dr Romayne, for his connection in the conspiracy of Blount

Accept, dear Sir the assurance of my sincere regard and respect

M Leib

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter from Matthew Leib received 6 Oct. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

Michael Leib (1760–1822), physician and politician, received medical training from Benjamin Rush and as a surgeon attached to the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War. Later he became associated with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia almshouse and dispensary. Leib sat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1795–98, 1806–08, and 1817–18, in the United States House of Representatives, 1799–1806, in the United States Senate, 1809–14, and in the Pennsylvania Senate, 1818–21. He also served as Philadelphia’s postmaster, 1814–15. Initially an outspoken Jeffersonian, Leib remained fiercely loyal to William Duane and joined him in strident opposition to James Madison’s administration as part of the steadily weakening Pennsylvania faction of Old School Democrats (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Leib to TJ, 6 Apr. 1801 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–09; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 33:543]; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 30 Dec. 1822).

Duane had been convicted of libel seven years after publishing a paragraph that accused James E. Smith of corrupt practices as “steward of the Lazaretto” quarantine hospital near Philadelphia. James Reynolds served on the board of health that ousted Smith. Jasper Yeates (yates) was a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Relfs Philadelphia Gazette. And Daily Advertiser, 19 July 1804; Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 20 July 1804; New York Commercial Advertiser, 3 Aug. 1811; John Hill Martin, Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia [1883], 23, 326).

On a former occasion TJ advised Leib that he “would do any thing in my power to assuage & reconcile” the warring branches of Pennsylvania Republicans (TJ to Leib, 12 Aug. 1805 [DLC]).

William Blount, a former governor of the Southwest Territory, briefly represented the new state of Tennessee in the United States Senate before that body expelled him in 1797 for involvement in a conspiracy to transfer possession of Florida and Louisiana from Spain to Great Britain (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ). In 1797 Duane charged that the New York physician Nicholas romayne was a British agent promoting the plot. When Romayne departed for England three years later, Duane commented that “where such characters are on the move there cannot be much good brewing” (New York Diary and Mercantile Advertiser, 14 July 1797; Alexandria Times: and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, 7 July 1800).

Index Entries

  • Aurora (Philadelphia newspaper); and W. Duane search
  • Bank of the United States; and W. Duane search
  • Blount, William; conspiracy search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; seeks Senate doorkeeper appointment search
  • Duane, William; libel charges against search
  • Leib, Michael; as U.S. senator search
  • Leib, Michael; identified search
  • Leib, Michael; letters from search
  • Leib, Michael; supports W. Duane search
  • libel; W. Duane sued for search
  • newspapers; Philadelphia Aurora search
  • Philadelphia; Aurora search
  • Republican party; members of feud search
  • Reynolds, James; and Philadelphia health board search
  • Romayne, Nicholas; and W. Blount conspiracy search
  • Smith, James E.; accused of corruption search
  • Yeates, Jasper; justice of Pennsylvania Supreme Court search