Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Tench Coxe, 23 April 1791

From Tench Coxe

[Philadelphia], 23 Apr. 1791. He encloses some remarks on the consular return, made with the greater freedom because TJ will consider before adopting them. He also sends an example of the variations in the form of a return. No aspect to the check in favor of the revenue, which might be introduced, appears in it. He has retained one of Maury’s returns to consider the application of these documents to that purpose.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 23 Apr. 1791 and so recorded in SJl.

The consular form on which Coxe based his remarks was evidently one submitted by Maury, but it has not been found. Although TJ was as ardent a statistician as Coxe and far more devoted to system, he did not adopt the suggestions here advanced for a uniform and systematic mode of consular reporting. None of his several circular letters to American consuls required such a form—or indeed any other in addition to the general instructions given in his consular circular of 26 Aug. 1790 (see TJ’s circulars of 13 May 1791, 31 May 1792, 14 Nov. 1792, and 21 Mch. 1793). That no specific form was adopted during TJ’s tenure as Secretary of State is indicated by the action of his successor, Edmund Randolph, who in his circular letter of instructions to consuls of 31 Dec. 1794 enclosed TJ’s letter of 26 Aug. 1790 as evidence of what information was required, whatever the form.

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