To William Bradford
Monticello Nov. 6. 1797.
To be present at the meeting of Congress would have required me to set out on this day. But circumstances of necessity oblige me to ask of the Senate the indulgence of some time, probably of about a fortnight. Whether it be more or less I shall repair to my station the first moment it is possible for me to do so. A knolege that in the mean time it is so worthily filled, leaves me nothing to regret but the controul of those circumstances which, in witholding me from my duties, impose them on another. With these my apologies, permit me through you to present the homage of my respect to the Senate, and be pleased to accept yourself assurance of the great and sincere esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedt & most hble servt
FC (DLC); at foot of text: “Govr. Bradford Presidt. p.t. of the Sen. of the US.”; endorsed by TJ.
William Bradford (1729–1808) was born in Massachusetts where he prepared for a career in medicine. After moving to Bristol, Rhode Island, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1767. Bradford served as deputy governor of Rhode Island from 1775 to 1778 and regularly sat in the House of Deputies of the Rhode Island General Assembly, where he was elected speaker in 1780 and frequently thereafter. A Federalist, Bradford represented that state in the United States Senate from 1793 until he resigned in October 1797 (Biog. Dir. Cong.; John Russell Bartlett, ed., Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England, 10 vols. [Providence, 1856–65; repr. New York, 1968], vi, 282, vii, 407, viii, 387, ix, 53, 383, 541, 690, x, 21, 93, 192, 428; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , ii, 10, 406). For his election as president pro tempore of the Senate, see note to TJ to John Strode, 14 June 1797.
While the second session of the Fifth congress commenced on 13 Nov., a quorum did not attend until nine days later when the senate elected Jacob Read to preside until TJ arrived (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , ii, 405–6).