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Memorandum from Thomas Jefferson, 11 March 1805

Memorandum from Thomas Jefferson

Mar. 11. 05.

James Wilkinson of Maryland1 Governor of the territory of Louisiana from & after the 3d. of July next for the term of 3. years then next ensuing, unless sooner &c

Joseph Browne of N. York, Secretary of do.2 from & after &c

*Return Jonathan Meigs3 of Louisiana to be judges of the * John B. C. Lucas4 of Pensylvania  court of the territory Rufus Easton of New York5   of Louisiana from & after &c.

George Duffield of Tennissee to be a judge of the Superior court of the territory of Orleans. (he lives at Greeneville Greene county. Tennissee)

James Brown late of Kentucky, now of Orleans Attorney of the US. for the district of Orleans

Henry Hill junr.6 of N. York Consul for the island of Cuba.

Edward Carrington of R. Island Consul at Canton.

James M. Henry of Virginia Agent at Jamaica.

Th: Jefferson

Mar. 11. 05.

John Thompson of Kentucky7 Register of the land office in the Western part of the territory of Orleans

John W. Gurley of Orleans8 Register &c—in the Eastern part of the territory of Orleans.

James Tremble of Tennissee9 Recorder of the territory of Louisiana.10

Th: Jefferson

*I am not sure these christian names are right

RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1Revolutionary War veteran and Maryland native James Wilkinson (1757–1825) emigrated to Kentucky after the Revolution, where he participated in public life and ingratiated himself with the Spanish authorities in Louisiana from whom he received thousands of dollars over his lifetime to promote Spanish interests in U.S. territory. In 1791 he rejoined the army and fought in Indian campaigns while continuing his relationship with the Spanish. Under the Jefferson administration Wilkinson was entrusted with several assignments, including negotiator with the southern Indian tribes and commissioner for the transfer of Louisiana after the 1803 purchase by the United States. He was connected with Aaron Burr during the latter’s movements in 1804 and 1805. While governor of Louisiana Territory, a position from which he was transferred in 1806, he continued to serve in southern military posts and he was a witness for the prosecution in Burr’s treason trial in 1807. Although Wilkinson was apparently trusted by Jefferson, he was viewed with suspicion by many other public officials and underwent several investigations into his conduct. In 1811 JM ordered his court-martial, but Wilkinson was acquitted and continued his military career. During the War of 1812 he took control of Spanish West Florida after which success he was transferred to the upper New York theater, where he bore responsibility for the U.S. defeats at the battles of Chrysler’s Farm and Lacolle Mill and the subsequent general deterioration of the troops under his command. He was court-martialed again for his actions in that campaign and again acquitted of all charges but was discharged from the army in 1815. Between 1817 and 1822 he lived on his plantation near New Orleans from whence in 1822 he left for Mexico hoping to replenish his dwindling fortunes. He died and was buried in Mexico City (James Ripley Jacobs, Tarnished Warrior: Major-General James Wilkinson [New York, 1938], 2, 7, 69, 74–75, 77, 81, 112–116, 118, 128–29, 137, 148, 195–98, 201–2, 205–6, 214–18, 227, 229, 237–39, 266–74, 280–86, 294–97, 304–5, 309–15, 321, 329, 332, 335, 340; PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:277 n. 8).

2Louisiana territorial secretary Joseph Browne (1758–1810), a physician and Revolutionary War veteran who married Burr’s sister-in-law, had worked with Burr in promoting the Manhattan Company and had campaigned for him during the 1804 New York gubernatorial election. In Wilkinson’s absence the secretary also served as acting governor of the territory from 1806 until Browne was replaced by Frederick Bates in April 1807 (Kline, Papers of Burr, I:lxvi, 400, 2:835, 911, 918–19 and n. 1; Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana–Missouri, 14:3, 110, 117 and n. 2).

3Attorney Return Jonathan Meigs Jr. (1764–1824) was a Connecticut native and Yale College graduate who moved to Ohio in 1788, where he was appointed a territorial judge in 1798 and became chief justice of the state supreme court in 1803 after Ohio achieved statehood. He was made commandant at St. Charles, Upper Louisiana, with the rank of colonel in 1804; he was named territorial judge in Louisiana in 1805, and U.S. district court judge in Michigan Territory in 1807. He resigned from the latter post to return to Ohio where he ran successfully for governor, but his election was invalidated on the grounds of his prolonged absence from the state. He represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate from 1808 to 1810 and was elected governor in 1810 and 1812. From 1814 to 1823 he was postmaster general of the United States (Sobel and Raimo, Biographical Directory of the Governors, 3:1193–94; Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana–Missouri, 13:40–41, 46, 52 n. 5, 54).

4John Baptiste Charles Lucas was born in Pont-Audemer, Normandy, and educated as a lawyer in Paris and Caen. He moved to the United States in 1784 and settled in Pennsylvania where he served in the state senate from 1792 to 1798, was a judge in the court of common pleas in 1794, and represented Pennsylvania in Congress from 1803 to 1805. Lucas served as judge at St. Louis for fifteen years, sitting also on the land-title adjustment commission until 1812. He later became wealthy through land investments in the area.

5Rufus Easton (1774–1834) was born in Connecticut and practiced law in Rome, New York. After a brief stay in Vincennes, Indiana Territory, he moved to St. Louis where he received an interim appointment as judge. He was named the first postmaster at St. Louis, serving from 1805 to 1815. He was a Congressional delegate from the Missouri Territory from 1814 to 1816 and was Missouri state attorney general from 1821 to 1826. For his judicial career, see n. 10 below.

6Guilford, Connecticut, native and New York merchant Henry Hill Jr. (1778–1841) was named consul at Havana in 1805. In February 1807, JM named Hill agent for seamen at Jamaica, but Hill resigned from that position three months later. In May 1808 Jefferson named Hill consul at San Salvador, Brazil, where he served until 1818 when he was appointed consul at Rio de Janeiro (CtU: Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Henry Hill Papers, folders 3 and 19; New York Morning Chronicle, 29 Aug. 1804, 12 May 1807; Philadelphia United States’ Gazette, 10 June 1805; Hill to JM, 10 Feb. 1807 [DNA: RG 59, CD, Havana, vol. 1]; William R. Manning, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States Concerning the Independence of the Latin-American Nations [3 vols.; New York, 1925], 2:703; JM to Hill, 3 May 1808 [NjP: Henry Hill Collection]; New York Commercial Advertiser, 9 Mar. 1819).

7John Thompson of Kentucky (d. 1810) was appointed register and one of the commissioners of the land office for the western part of Orleans Territory in 1805. In 1807 he was named parish judge in Opelousas, and from November 1808 to February 1810 he was a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. He shot himself in 1810 (Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:429, 457, 749, 988; “The Celebration of the Centenary of the Supreme Court of Louisiana,” La. Historical Quarterly 4 [1921]: 114).

8Connecticut native and Boston resident John Ward Gurley (1778–1808) was a graduate of Yale College. He was killed in a duel in March 1808 (Albert E. Gurley, The History and Genealogy of the Gurley Family [Hartford, Conn., 1897], 70–71).

9James Trimble (1781–1824) was born in Augusta County, Virginia, but was raised by his mother and stepfather in Tennessee. He studied law in Staunton, Virginia, but returned to Tennessee to establish his practice in Knoxville and Nashville (Joseph A. Waddell, “Annals of Augusta County, Virginia. Supplement,” in Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, with Reminiscences Illustrative of the Vicissitudes of Its Pioneer Settlers; Biographical Sketches of Citizens Locally Prominent, and of Those Who Have Founded Families in the Southern and Western States [Richmond, Va., 1888], 411–12).

10On 20 Dec. 1805 Jefferson submitted the names of Brown, Browne, Carrington, Gurley, Lucas, Meigs, Thompson, and Wilkinson to the Senate as recess appointments. James Lowry Donaldson was named recorder for Louisiana in place of James Trimble. Although George Duffield was appointed judge for Orleans Territory and traveled to New Orleans, he resigned for reasons of health on 23 July 1805. Easton received a commission as judge in Louisiana but apparently became embroiled in considerable unpleasantness in the territory, and although he traveled to Washington to defend himself, Jefferson declined to submit his name to Congress. Henry Hill’s name was also never submitted to Congress, probably because Spanish law forbade foreign consuls in their colonies, while James M. Henry declined his appointment (see Hill to JM, 12 June 1805, and nn. 2–3, and JM to Henry, 20 July 1805) (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1828). description ends , 2:7–8; Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:415, 475–76; Carter, Territorial Papers, Louisiana–Missouri, 13:351, 370, 380, 391, 450). For Carrington, see William Jones to JM, 23 Feb. 1805, and n. 3.

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