Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Donald Fraser to Thomas Jefferson, 24 September 1813

From Donald Fraser

New York Septr 24th 1813.

Venerable Sir—

Being advanced in Years (63) I find my former profession, of a Teacher, rather irksome—Hence, I am desirous of obtaining the appointment a Chaplain to one of the Brigades of the U. States Army—My son Donald Fraser Junr now at “Fort George” writes me that a Chaplain’s office is now vacant in the first Brigade of Infantry—My Son was a great favorite of the late Genl Pike,1 to whom he was Aide camp, & is now in the family of Genl Boyde

I was not bred a regular Clergymen, But have in the Years 1775 & 6, Preached occasionally, in New England, when a Teacher there—I humbly conceive, that I am qualifyed to compose, & to Deliver a Practical & moral Discourse tho’ not a Theological or Doctrinal Sermon—My moral character, thank God, is I trust, irreproachable.

I have been informed, that Some persons have been appointed to the office of Chaplain, who were not clergy men; Indeed, I know two Such in the Navy—I am Sorry to intrude upon your time, in Your retirement: After a Summer’s-day of arduous exertions in the cause of your country—Permit me to request Your having the goodness to write a few lines to the Secretary of State, in my behalf—As a line from you will, as it ought, have great weight with him. I have had the honor, of being once or twice in company with Genl Armstrong—: He knows my character—

That the Unerring Ruler of the Universe may preserve your life, in health & much Do[m]estic happiness for 15 or 20 Years longer in the full use of your mental faculties—Is, the Sincere wish of one, whom You have repeatedly favoured—& is, with gratitude &2 great respect Sir, your humble Servant.

Donald Fraser Senr

RC (MHi); torn at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Late President of the United States. Montacello”; franked; postmarked Baltimore, 3 Oct.; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Oct. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

With this letter Fraser may have enclosed a testimonial dated New York, 31 Aug. 1813, in which Garret Sickels, George McKay, William Mooney, John Remsen, and Clarkson Crolius attested “To all whom it may concern, we the Subscribers, do hereby certify that we have been personally acquainted with the Bearer; Mr. D. Fraser Senr—& believe him to be a genuine Republican.” Fraser added a postscript describing Mooney and Crolius as “fervent friends to Government, & Staunch Reppublicans—They were both for Some Years Grand Sachems of the ‘Tammany Society’ in New York” (MS in DLC; in an unidentified hand except for signatures by Sickels, McKay, Mooney, Remsen, and Crolius and postscript by Fraser).

American forces captured the British outpost of fort george at the northern end of the Niagara Peninsula in May 1813 (Stagg, Madison’s War description begins John C. A. Stagg, Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783–1830, 1983 description ends , 333). Fraser did not secure an army chaplaincy.

1Word added in margin.

2Manuscript: “& &.”

Index Entries

  • Armstrong, John; mentioned search
  • Army, U.S.; chaplains for search
  • Boyd, John Parker search
  • Crolius, Clarkson search
  • Fort George (Upper Canada) search
  • Fraser, Donald, Jr. search
  • Fraser, Donald; certificate of republicanism for search
  • Fraser, Donald; letters from search
  • Fraser, Donald; seeks appointment search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • McKay, George search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Mooney, William search
  • New York (state); Tammany societies of search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Pike, Zebulon Montgomery; mentioned search
  • Remsen, John search
  • Sickels, Garret search
  • Tammany societies; of N.Y. search