Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Howell, 4 October 1793

From David Howell

Providence Octo, 4. 1793

Dear Sir

I wrote you a few days ago by private conveyance: but fearing miscarriage of that Letter I now write by Post. You will have been informed before this can be put into your hands of the death of Mr. Channing, the Atty. for this District. The most respectable Gentlemen in this place have been pleased to recommend me for that place. Flattering myself of your good opinion from the notice you have on former occasions, been pleased to take of me I take the Liberty to request your interest with the President in my favour for that appointment.

Ever since I left Congress I have with unremitting assiduity applied myself to the study and practice of the Law—and have studiously avoided political life and have no expectations but in the line of my profession. For my zeal in adopting the new Constitution the good people of this State did me the Honor to leave me out of the place of Atto. General which I then held.

I know of no Competitor on this occasion excepting a Young Gentleman D. L. B. who has not resided more than a year in this State—of this fact, as relative to him, I wish the President to be informed.

My Situation in this Town is at present agreeable and easy. I am furnished with, I presume, the best Library that ever was in N. England—and it is my expectation to devote my life to the business of my profession. Sat verbum sapienti.

I expect a temporary appointment will be made immediately. With great esteem I remain Dr Sr Your affectionate friend

David Howell

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ submitted this letter on 2 Nov. 1793 to the President, along with a letter from the most respectable gentlemen in Providence supporting Howell’s pretensions, describing him as the professor of law at the College of Rhode Island and a former justice of the state Superior Court, and confirming that he had lost his bid for reelection as Atto. general of Rhode Island because of his “decided opinion officially given in spirited addresses to both houses of our Legislature in favour of a convention for adopting the fœderal constitution” (John Brown, John Francis, George Benson, Welcome Arnold, Jabez Bowen, Joseph Nightingale, Thomas Arnold, and William Peck to TJ, Providence, 2 Oct. 1793, RC in DLC; erroneously endorsed by TJ as received 24 Sep. 1793 but recorded in SJL as received 24 Oct. 1793). Washington returned both letters the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 243). TJ did not show the President the letter of a few days ago from Howell, actually dated 3 Oct. 1793, which was shorter but of the same purport as the one printed above (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL). D. L. B.: Providence attorney David Leonard Barnes (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xv, 357–8). Howell and Barnes were both passed over in favor of Ray Greene, whom the Senate confirmed in January 1794, but TJ appointed Howell to the office in 1801 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends i, 147, 401, 405).

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