Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 10 August 1812

To James Madison

Monticello Aug. 10. 12.

Dear Sir

The letter within which this is inclosed contains the truth: there is not a word in it that is not so. but while the sollicitations of a friend have obliged me to present his case, duty to yourself & the public oblige me to say it does not contain the whole truth. one single circumstance is to be added. this candidate for the office of Consul at Lisbon, who often has to transact diplomatic business with that government, as we have no minister there, is not qualified by education or understanding for the duties of the office. he is uninformed & unlettered, & so much so as to be entirely insensible of it himself. his understanding is equal to the business he is in, but not to that which would be incumbent on him at that post. his letter now inclosed is a specimen by which you can judge, which after perusal be so good as to return under cover to me, without taking the trouble of saying a word on the subject. my outer letter will probably go on your files; I have written this separately that it may not do so, but remain among your private papers, unwilling to make a public record of it in the case of so good a man.

Constant rains are detracting from the produce of our harvest, by rendering it impossible to thresh, and in the mean time injuring the grain in the stacks. ever affectionately yours

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “Mr Madison.” PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ. Enclosed in TJ to Madison, 10 Aug. 1812 (first letter).

Letters from David Higginbotham of 26 and 27 June 1812, not found, are each recorded in SJL as received the day they were written. SJL also records a missing letter of 26 June 1812 from TJ to Higginbotham. The letter from Higginbotham enclosed here may have been one of two missing letters, 5 and 7 Aug. 1812, recorded in SJL as received from Milton on 6 and 9 Aug. respectively.

Higginbotham wrote Madison directly from Milton on 12 Aug. 1812 that “I have just heard of the death of Mr George Jefferson, our consul at Lisbon, his loss I sincearly regret, youll no doubt shortly appoint another to fill his place, I now take the liberty to offer you my servises to fill that place, tho an entire stranger to you, and therefore refur you to my neighbours Mr Thomas Jefferson and Colo James Monroe for my capacity character &c, they have long been acquainted with me, my transactions with them in the Mercantile way has been conciderable for these ten or twelve years, I have little doubt but I should be able to give the government general satisfaction as consul at Lisbon” (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17).

Index Entries

  • Higginbotham, David; letters from accounted for search
  • Higginbotham, David; letters to accounted for search
  • Higginbotham, David; seeks consulship at Lisbon search
  • Jefferson, George (TJ’s cousin); death of search
  • Lisbon; U.S. consulship at search
  • Madison, James; and appointments search
  • Madison, James; letters to search
  • weather; effect on crops search
  • weather; rain search
  • wheat; effect of weather on search