Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Nathaniel Macon, 20 April 1801

From Nathaniel Macon

Warrenton 20 April 1801


Since my return it has not been in my power to see General Davie. He is now at his plantation on the Catawba. I will endeavor to see him as soon as he gets home, which will probably be about the 10. of May; If you should wish to appoint more than one Commissioner from this state to treat with the Indians, I do not think a second could be found that would do better than Major Absalom Tatom of Hillsborough; but it seems to me, two, if not one, could do every thing that is to be done, and if only two it might be well to appoint one from Tennessee or if there should be preferred, one from this state, one from Tennessee & the third from some other state—We wish no change of any of the federal officers, unless they are delinquent, and then the delinquency to be made public—I have understood that Sitgreaves did not accept his new appointment, if this be the fact, and you determine to make a new appointment, permit me to name you, Henry Potter of Raleigh for the place, As a Judge I am sure he would be acceptable to every Democrat in the state. He is a sound one himself and has always been so

  • Suffer me to say to you, that the people expect,—
  • That Levees will be done way—
  • That the communication to the next Congress will be by letter not a
  • That we have too many Ministers in Europe—
  • That some of the Collectors, perhaps all, had better recieve a fixed
    salary, than commissions—
  • That the army might safely be reduced—
  • That the navy might also be reduced—
  • That the Agents to the War & navy might be reduced—In fact that a system of ceconomy is to be adopted and pursued with energy—

As soon as I see Davie I will inform you, and If he does not incline to be a commissioner to treat with Indians, I will then name some other to you

I am with perfect respect & esteem Sir yr. most obt. sert.

Nathl Macon

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 29 Apr. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”

Nathaniel Macon (1758–1837) of North Carolina had served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1791. His political career was marked by his fervent devotion to the principles of states’ rights, limited government, a strict construction of the Constitution, and democratic simplicity. In December 1801 he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, remaining in the position until 1807. Although a strong supporter of TJ early in his presidency, Macon broke with the administration in 1806. He remained in the House until 1815, when he was elected to the Senate. He retired from Congress in 1828 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Biog. Dir. Cong.).

In a brief letter to TJ dated 1 May, Macon again recommended Henry Potter in place of John Sitgreaves, a judge of the District Court for North Carolina who had declined an appointment to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court. “I am well informed,” wrote Macon, “that he would be acceptable, he has been uniformly a sound Republican” (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 9 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”). On 30 Nov., TJ appointed Potter to the circuit judgeship. Following Sitgreaves’s death in March 1802, TJ in April named Potter to be his replacement as judge of the District Court for North Carolina (Appendix I, List 3; 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, 3 vols. description ends , 1:401, 418; William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 vols. [Chapel Hill, 1979–96], 5:131–2, 353–4; Levi Lincoln to TJ, 21 Mch.).

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