Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Miller, 26 March 1801

From John Miller

Pendleton Court-House S.C. March 26, 1801.


The Man who in London between the Periods of 1770 and 1781, in his London Evening Post, for seven Years laboured in decrying and exposing the Wickedness and Folly of the accursed American War, (as he told Lord Mansfield when receiving Sentence) Now, from under the Mountains in South Carolina, has the heartfelt Satisfaction of offering his Congratulations to the President of the United States on his Call, by the glad Voice of his Country, to his present all-important and dignified Post. He adds his most fervent Wishes, which shall ever be accompanied by his Prayers, that a gracious Providence may continue to the President the Blessing of uninterrupted Health in the Discharge of his infinitely interesting Functions—and that, ever beloved, his Administration may be truly tranquil and singularly happy. With sincerely affectionate Regard he will ever be the President’s most humble servant.

J. Miller

Mr. Miller’s Imprisonment (which during fourteen years this last Time made the eighth) was terminated by the coming into the Ministry, of his Friend Mr. Fox.

RC (ViW); at foot of text: “His Excellency the President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 May and so recorded in SJL.

Noted for his pro-American views, John Miller (ca. 1744–1807), printer of the London Evening Post and the London Courant, faced libel charges five times between 1770 and 1781 and was jailed on several occasions. He published a series of articles in the London Courant in October and November 1781 criticizing the treatment of Henry Laurens, who had been captured on his way to Europe in September 1780 and was held in the Tower of London under the charge of treason until 31 Dec. 1781. Arrested, tried, and jailed again in late 1781, Miller began making plans to leave England. Carrying a letter of recommendation from Laurens, he arrived in the United States in January 1783. Miller settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where he established the South-Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser and served as the official state printer. He sold the newspaper in 1785 and settled with his family in Pendleton District. In 1795 he became the corresponding secretary of the Franklin Society of Pendleton, a Democratic-Republican Society for which he wrote “stirring anti-Federalist resolutions” and voiced opposition to the Jay Treaty (London Courant, 23, 29 Nov. 1781; Philip M. Hamer and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Laurens, 16 vols. [Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003], 15: xvii, 380; 16:4; S.C. Biographical Directory, House of Representatives, 3:498–500; D. H. Gilpatrick, “The English Background of John Miller,” The Furman Bulletin, 20 [1938], 14–20; Eugene P. Link, Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790–1800 [New York, 1973], 58, 90–1, 132; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, vols. description ends , 2:1039).

Miller delivered the statement on the accursed American War on 28 Nov. 1781, immediately after being sentenced to a year in prison for “copying a paragraph respecting the Russian Ambassador” from a morning newspaper into the London Evening Post (London Courant, 29 Nov. 1781).

Charles James Fox, an outspoken opponent of the war with the American colonies, became foreign secretary in March 1782, when Lord North resigned and the Rockingham administration came into power. Miller was released from prison in May 1782 (DNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, In Association with The British Academy, From the earliest times to the year 2000, Oxford, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ; The Furman Bulletin, 20 [1938], 18–19).

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