Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Knox, 22 November 1793

From Henry Knox

Philadelphia 22 Nov 1793.

My dear Sir

General Stewart declines accepting the Appointment of Inspector for the port of Philadelphia and would have done the same with the naval office had it been offered to him. He says that he made the application at the instance of his father in Law, who is now convinced that the accepstance of the office would injure his commercial pursuits.

I enclose you a letter from the Governor of Maryland, enclosing the copy of A deposition relatively to the capture of the brigs Cunningham and Pilgrim. I am my dear Sir respectfully your humble Servant

H Knox

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Nov. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. PrC (Gilder Lehrman Collection: Knox Papers, on deposit NNP); endorsed in ink by Knox. Enclosure: Thomas Sim Lee to Knox, Annapolis, 5 Nov. 1793, enclosing a copy of a deposition respecting the capture of the brigs Conyngham and Pilgrim recently forwarded to him for the President’s consideration by F. Moissonnier at Baltimore, and relaying the French vice-consul’s promise that further testimony, if needed, will be furnished once the Sans Culottes returns and his hope that in the interim no decision against the legality of the capture will be made (Dft in MdAA: Maryland State Papers, in a clerk’s hand, with revisions, complimentary close, and signature by Lee; FC in MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council). The enclosed deposition has not been found, but it probably offered testimony that the vessels had been in international waters when they were captured (see Lee to Knox, 25 Oct. 1793, MdAA: Maryland State Papers; Moissonnier to Lee, 23 Oct. 1793, MdAA: Scharf Collection).

Walter Stewart soon reconsidered and in December accepted appointment as surveyor and inspector of revenue for the Port of Philadelphia after coming to an understanding with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton that he could relinquish his commercial pursuits gradually (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xv, 416–17,425,444). The President accordingly nominated him on 9 Dec. 1793 and he won Senate confirmation a day later (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, 140, 141). His commission is dated 10 Dec. 1793 (MS, owned by Lloyd W. Smith, Morristown, New Jersey, 1946; printed form with blanks filled by a clerk; signed by Washington and countersigned by TJ). Blair McClenachan was Stewart’s father in law (PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877- description ends , xlvii [1923], 275).

On 22 Nov. 1793 TJ submitted this letter and its enclosures to the President, who returned them the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 256).

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