Thomas Jefferson Papers

Note on Diplomatic Appointments, July 1797

Note on Diplomatic Appointments

1797. July. Murray is rewarded for his services by an appointment to Amsterdam; W. Smith of Charleston to Lisbon.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 102: 17461); entirely in TJ’s hand; written as initial entry on same sheet as Notes on Alexander Hamilton, 24 Aug. 1797, a truncated version of Note on Spanish Expenditures, 13 Oct. 1797, and Notes on Conversations with John Adams and George Washington, [after 13 Oct. 1797].

Five previous editions of TJ’s papers have included this document and other notes of meetings, conversations, and gossip that TJ compiled during his term as vice president and then as president with similar notes that he kept during his secretary of state years, which collectively have become known as the “Anas.” TJ himself, however, applied this term only to materials pertaining to the secretary of state years that he gathered and bound together perhaps as early as 1800 in an effort to counteract John Marshall’s upcoming history of George Washington’s administration, which TJ surmised would be of a highly partisan character (Vol. 22: 33–8).

On 27 Feb. 1797, Washington nominated William Vans Murray, a Federalist leader in the House of Representatives from Maryland, to serve as resident minister of the United States to the Netherlands at Amsterdam. The Senate confirmed the appointment four days later. On 6 July, President Adams nominated William L. Smith, Federalist leader of the House of Representatives from Charleston, South Carolina, to serve as minister plenipotentiary at Lisbon. The Senate confirmed the appointment by a 20 to 4 vote on 10 July 1797 (Biog. Dir. Cong.; 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, 228, 248–9). Smith had been seeking a diplomatic appointment since the spring of 1795 (George C. Rogers, Jr., Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758–1812) [Columbia, S.C., 1962], 304–6).

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