Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Tobias Lear, 23 November 1792

From Tobias Lear

United States, November 23d. 1792

T. Lear has the honor to transmit to the Secretary of State the Commissions which were sent to the President for his signature, which they have received.

T. Lear begs leave to observe that in the Commission of Mr. Joy, it is expressed: “He demanding and receiving no Fees or Perquisites”—which appears to be contrary to the fourth Section of the Act passed during the last Session of Congress, entitled, “An Act concerning Consuls and Vice Consuls.” If the matter should strike the Secretary in the same light as it does T. Lear, it will undoubtedly be rectified.

PrC (DNA: RG 59, MLR). FC (Lb in same, SDC).

Lear had written a brief letter to TJ on 21 Nov. 1792 advising that the Senate had confirmed Benjamin Joy as consul at Calcutta as well as six other nominees (PrC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; FC in Lb in same, SDC). For the antecedents, see TJ to Washington, 19 Nov. 1792, and note. On 21 Nov. 1792 TJ wrote a covering letter to Joy enclosing his commission (PrC in DLC, in the hand of George Taylor, Jr., unsigned; FC in Lb in DNA: RG 360, DL; not recorded in SJL). The fourth section of the consular law passed by Congress in April 1792 permitted consuls to receive fees for the performance of specified consular services (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title-page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends iii, 1361–2), and the final form of Joy’s commission was modified to include the clause that had become standard in consular commissions even before passage of the law: “He demanding and receiving no Fees or Perquisites of Office whatever, which shall not be expressly established by some law of the said United States” (Commission to Joy, 21 Nov. 1792, FC in DNA: RG 59, Consular Commissions). Joy accepted the appointment in brief letters to TJ and Washington of 9 Dec. 1792 (RCs in same, CD).

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