Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Ephraim Kirby, 18 March 1801

From Ephraim Kirby

Litchfield Cont March 18th. 1801


I take the liberty to convey to you the enclosed Pamphlet.—It contains sentiments which I believe will meet your approbation. The author lives in my vicinity, and is an exception from the general character of the Connecticut Clergy.—In the great conflict of political opinion, he has suffered much for righteousness sake.

Permit me Sir, to mention, that if either the office of Post Master General, or Supervisor of the Revenue in Connecticut, should become vacant, I shall be willing to be considered a candidate for one or the other of them—If you know enough of my character, to confer upon me either of those offices, I shall endeavour to prove that your confidence is not misplaced.

I am most respectfully Your Obedt. Servt

Ephraim Kirby

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Apr. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.” Enclosure not found, but see below.


A Litchfield County native and Revolutionary War veteran, Ephraim Kirby (1757–1804) practiced law and compiled Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Superior Court of the State of Connecticut from the Year 1785 to May 1788 with Some Determinations in the Supreme Court of Errors (Litchfield, 1789; see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 21914), noted as the first volume of state law reports to be published in the United States. Kirby speculated in land and helped organize the Connecticut Land Company. In 1791 he began serving in the state legislature. An outspoken critic of Federalist policies, he was prominent in the organization of the Republican opposition and stood as their candidate for governor in 1801 and the two following years. In July 1801, TJ appointed Kirby supervisor of internal revenue for Connecticut, a position he held until September 1802. In 1803 he was one of three commissioners appointed by the president to settle disputed land claims in Mississippi Territory. The commissioners met at Fort Stoddert. Before TJ heard of Kirby’s untimely death from yellow fever, he wrote and offered him the governorship of Mississippi Territory (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; TJ to Kirby, 1 Dec. 1804).

The enclosed pamphlet may have been Stanley Griswold’s Overcoming Evil With Good. A Sermon, Delivered at Wallingford, Connecticut, March 11,1801; Before a Numerous Collection of the Friends of the Constitution, of Thomas Jefferson, President, and of Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States, published in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1801. Griswold, a Congregational minister at New Milford, in Litchfield County, and a Republican, delivered the sermon as part of a celebration in honor of TJ’s election (see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends Nos. 1664, 3263). For another pamphlet by Griswold, see Elijah Boardman to TJ, 1 Mch. 1801.

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