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To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 7 September 1801

From Albert Gallatin

Washington 7th Septer. 1801

Dear Sir

I duly received your favor of the 28th ulto.—In the case of the intended successor of Gen. White as surveyor at Brunswick, I applied to the printer S. H. Smith who married there, & who after ten days deliberation, told me that he had in vain tried to find a republican there fitted for the office, but mentioned the name of John Nelson as a very respectable & moderate federal character there. If that will not do, might it not be well to apply for information to Gen. Heard who lives within ten miles of Brunswick?—I received a letter from Mr Millege of Georgia recommending, without any remarks, four persons as proper to succeed Mr Powell the collector of Savannah. One of the four, though not the first in order, is the same person whom Gov. Jackson recommended. The office is so important that I have thought it best to delay filling the commission for one week longer, in order, if possible to receive answers from Messrs. Taliaferro & Baldwin; and I have also written on the subject to Colo. Few at New York. As you have acquaintances in the vicinity of Norfolk, it is very desirable that information should be obtained from them on the subject of a proper successor for Nat. Wilkins collector of Cherry Stone, (Eastern shore Virga.) who is the worst delinquent on the list, his last account rendered being to 31 Dec. 1796. I have written to Mr Page & young Mr Newton, but neither can recommend any person. The successor should have integrity, keenness & firmness. There is much smuggling in that district, & the people being in the habit of favouring it, it will require some exertions to put an end to it.

The two enclosed from Mr Brent, & from Mr Steele, the last covering one from Mr Simmons, require no comment.

You will see by that of Mr Jarvis, that he declines accepting the collectorship of Penobscott. This leaves us in a very awkward situation, as in the mean while, Lee being superceded, we have no collector there. Mr Jarvis recommends his brother. On the other hand I have a recommendation for P. D. Serjeant which I enclose. It was given me at the time by Gen. Dearborn, who spoke favourably of the applicant, but on the whole preferred Mr. Jarvis, him who declines. Of this last gentleman’s brother I did not hear Gen. Dearborn speak, though he must have known that he resided on the spot, whilst the brother whom he recommended was established at Boston.

In respect to the appointment of an inspector of int. revenue for the new district N. West of Ohio, I enclose Mr Worthington’s letter, but have not time to wait for an answer from you, as the person must receive his appointment by 1st of Octer.—Upon the whole, it has appeared to me most eligible to fill the blank commission you left for that object with the name of Ths. Worthington, leaving him a reasonable time to resign either that or the place of Register of the land office. I had much rather he would keep the last, which is of more importance to the revenue, & of far more to the people than the other, because I consider him as being, upon the whole, the most respectable character in the North West Territory; but a decision of the Atty. general in relation to his fees has, I apprehend, somewhat disgusted him. It had been my intention to fill the commission with the name of Samuel Finley the receiver at Chilicothe, as the two offices seemed more compatible & the commission on that of receiver (1 p% on monies received) is not equal to the risk & trouble: but he has now upwards of 100,000 dollars in hand, & is not as regular in making his returns as he ought to be. If upon investigation, it will appear that it was owing only to the pressure of business, & Mr Worthington will keep the register’s place, I would still incline for that arrangement; but the temporary appointment of Mr W. will give us time to examine. You will be able to appreciate the weight of his recommendations in favor of two persons as collectors at Cayuga and Cincinnati. I do not expect any further information in relation to those two posts, & will of course wait for your instructions.

The list of warrants is, as usual, enclosed. Payments go on very well. After making the payment of interest due for this quarter at the end of this month, we will have 2 millions & half at least in the Treasury. We had but two at the end of last quarter. My only embarrassment proceeds from the difficulty of purchasing good bills on Amsterdam, in which we ought to have had 500,000 dollars more invested by 1st. of Octer. next. We have paid heretofore but 39; but must now give 40 cents pr guilder.

I was absent when the dispatches from France arrived, & cannot form any precise opinion of the result. I have uniformly thought, that, the modification proposed by the Senate having put it in the power of France to act as they pleased; that consistency was not, in the situation of Bonaparte, to be expected, which a government solely actuated by the permanent & solid interest of its nation would be likely to preserve. If, for any reasons connected with foreign policy, or their own domestic concerns, they do not think it their interest to ratify at the moment when the negociation takes place, I think that they will take hold of the alteration proposed. Yet, I had thought that peace with America was so popular in France that they would not run the risk of a rejection, & that that cause would preponderate over any other. On the other hand, it is clear that the signing of the convention was at least hastened by the wish1 to operate favorably on the northern powers, and that this motive has now ceased. If they intend to make peace with Great Britain, may they not think that they will be likely to make a more advantageous treaty with us after that event, or rather after the expiration of the British treaty than now? If they are really sincere in their objections to the omission &, it seems also, to the restoration of the second Article, and insist on a positive renunciation of indemnities & treaties, not with a view of defeating the treaty, but because they actually want such renunciation, may it be that they intend to occupy not only Louisiana but also the Floridas, & wish therefore an explicit annullation of the Treaty of 1777? I hope these delays will not be attended with any real change in the relative situation of the two countries; but I fear the effect on the public mind here.   Commodore Dale has arrived almost in the nick of time in the Mediterranean; yet it is to be wished that he had met the Tripolitan at sea instead of Gibralter.

With great respect & sincere attachment Your very obt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Sep. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Richard Brent to Gallatin, 24 Aug., noting that Osburn Sprigg, a Maryland native now representing Hampshire County in the Virginia House of Delegates, wished to recommend John Burbridge, a merchant, for postmaster at Oldtown, Maryland, because Daniel Fetter, the appointed postmaster, has moved, leaving his brother George Fetter in charge; Brent asks Gallatin to speak to the postmaster general about the situation; he also hopes that the president will make no further dismissals from office on the basis of “political opinion for nothing is more odious to the people and nothing more anxiously wished for by those who wish to render the Administration odious” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:636; Stets, Postmasters description begins Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States, 1782–1811, Lake Oswego, Ore., 1994 description ends , 140; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 220, 224, 228). (2) William Hull to Henry Dearborn, Newton, Massachusetts, 15 July 1801, expressing Paul Dudley Sargent’s desire to become collector at Penobscot in place of John Lee, who would likely be removed “for his violence agt. the present Administration,” but also remarking that “You are doubtless well acquainted with both the Characters, and will use your influence, as your Judgment shall dictate” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:380). (3) Thomas Worthington to Gallatin, Chillicothe, 21 Aug., noting that if offered to him he “would accept the office of Inspector under the expectation of being appointed the supervisor,” as described in Gallatin’s letter of 7 Aug., but not wishing to combine it with his present position as register of public lands he would resign it as soon as his books were put in order, finding the business of the land office so confining as to be injurious to his health and the compensation “inadequate to the services rendered”; recommending Winn Winship, a former resident of Berkeley County, Virginia, as an excellent accountant qualified to fill the office of inspector or either land office position at Chillicothe, Charles Kilgore of Cincinnati, who acted as clerk to the territorial legislature, as a worthy young man capable of filling the office of collector at that port, and John Edwards, son of Pierpont Edwards, as “very capable of discharging the duties of collector” in the district of Erie; and acknowledging receipt of Gallatin’s second letter of 7 Aug., enclosing the attorney general’s opinion on land office fees (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:621–3; endorsed by Gallatin with notation: “on proper persons for the several offices of Supervisor N.W. Territory, Collectors at Cincinnati & Erie” and “Private”). (4) “Weekly list of Warrants issued on the Treasurer for the week ending 5th Septer. 1801,” reporting 13 warrants, Nos. 144 to 156, for a total of $121,798.50, including No. 147 for Jonathan Burrall, cashier at the New York branch of the Bank of the United States, for $26,325, in payment of bills on Amsterdam “at 39 cts. Principal & interest” and No. 155 for Smith & Buchanan in payment “of 60,000 Guild. bills on Holland at 39 cts. Diplomatic”; with a balance in the Treasury at the beginning of the week of $3,271,305.60 and at the end of the week of $3,442,058.68 (MS in DLC, entirely in Gallatin’s hand; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 20:450n). For the letter from James Simons to John Steele, see below. Other enclosures not found.

In his letter to Gallatin, dated 21 Aug., Congressman John Milledge listed four persons he found “after enquiry and consideration” he could recommend “as qualified to discharge the duties of Collector” at Savannah. They were, in the order listed, James Alger, Thomas de Mattos Johnson, Archibald Bullock, and Richard Wylly (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:620).

Worst delinquent on the list: Gallatin’s Report on Delinquent Collectors is printed at 9 June.

John Steele forwarded the letter of 24 July that James Simons (Simmons) sent from the custom house at Charleston, enclosing an issue of Benjamin F. Timothy’s South-Carolina State Gazette, and Timothy’s Daily Advertiser of the same date, in which appeared a letter addressed to the president and signed “Americanus,” being the second of the series printed in the South Carolina newspaper and reprinted in many other papers. The other two in the series were dated 17 July and 1 Aug. Simons was concerned because in his second letter, “Americanus” argued against unwarranted dismissals from office and urged TJ to “beware, sir, how you attend to the busy whispers of slander.” “Americanus” cautioned TJ: “A man distinguished for his services during the American revolution; one of the most punctual and valuable officers under our present government, who has actually reclaimed the office he holds, and made it extremely lucrative, has been grossly misrepresented to you. Who, sir, are the persons who traduced him, and aimed at his removal? They are principally public defaulters; persons who were miscreant during our struggles for independence, or newly imported patriots who have no importance in society, but what they derive from disgraceful intrigues. It is true they were your advocates; but they are not entitled to your confidence.” Evidently Simons believed that the administration would know “Americanus” was referring to efforts to have him removed. Simons wrote Steele that he immediately called on the printer, requesting the name of “Americanus.” When the printer would not reveal the source, Simons urged him to inform the author “That I regretted exceedingly that I should be introduced in the publication, for that I had reasons to believe, that I possessed the confidence of the President, and that as any communication which may have been made to him had not been acted upon by him to injure me I could have wished that the circumstance he mentioned had not been published; that the public mind appeared to me disposed to conciliation, and that I hoped the administration would be supported—towards which my best efforts should be exerted.” Simons asserted that he believed that the president and the heads of departments were making “every proper effort” to uphold the national interest. He urged “Americanus” to unite with him “to effect an union of parties” for the public good. If the opportunity arose, Simons requested that Steele “communicate what I now say to you as my friend, to the President, towards whom I shall so act, as to merit both his confidence and friendship” (RC in NHi: Gallatin Papers, see Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:432–3; Concord Courier of New Hampshire, 20, 27 Aug.; Norwich Packet, 25 Aug.; Philadelphia Gazette, 14 Sep.).

Recommendation for P. D. Serjeant: see Enclosure No. 2. On 6 July, Sargent also applied directly to Gallatin for the position at Penobscot. In a short letter, he assured the Treasury secretary that he would support “the character of the Republican United States of America” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:311).

For Gallatin’s 7 Aug. letter to Thomas Worthington on the appointment of an inspector and collectorships, see Gallatin to TJ, 29 Aug. Blank commission you left: see Gallatin to TJ, 29 July (second letter). In another letter to Worthington dated 7 Aug., Gallatin enclosed Levi Lincoln’s decision that fees should not be collected by the register at the land office for lands purchased at public sale. On 15 Aug., Gallatin informed Worthington that Lincoln’s opinion did not “accord precisely” with his own and that “it is not to be considered as binding but merely as advice.” Gallatin added that a decision from a court “would settle the point.” A suit had already been brought against Worthington for the collection of fees and the court of common pleas had found in his favor. Worthington believed the judges of the general court, where the case was being decided, would do the same. On 29 Oct., Worthington informed Gallatin that although the court had done so, Governor Arthur St. Clair threatened to renew the prosecution of the case (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:519, 574, 621–3; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 3:156–7, 183). For the disagreement over the collection of fees at Chillicothe, see also Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 3:133–5, 139–40, 148–50, 154–5.

Expiration of the british treaty: according to Article 28, only the first ten articles of Jay’s Treaty were permanent. Article 12 expired at the end of two years, and the others were limited in duration to twelve years (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931–48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:264).

1Preceding six words interlined in place of “with an intent.”

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