Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Dowse, 12 May 1801

From Edward Dowse

Dedham in Massachusetts 12th. May 1801


Having lately applied to you by letter, and proposed myself a candidate for the office of Navy-agent, it is with much regret I find myself impell’d a second time to obtrude myself upon your notice.

Captain Samuel Nicholson late commander of the Ship Constitution, has this day (to my astonishment) given me proof to what length the malignant spirit of party, and to what degree of baseness some men in this part of the Country have been capable of descending—In order to accomplish their scheme of superseding him in office, they have impress’d a belief (with the late Secretary of the Navy among others) of his being unfitted for command by habits of intoxication—a viler calumny was never suggested—I have known him well for more than twenty years past—a man of correct morals, of virtuous habits, and a thorough bred Seaman, and as far as I am capable of judging, qualified to fulfill the Duties, and adorn the highest command in the Navy.—On a long voyage (of three years & a half) to India & China he commanded one of my Ships, in which I myself was a passenger: This afforded me full opportunity of knowing his character intimately. On no occasion whatever (not even those of convivial meetings, and in large Companies) did I ever know him to trench upon those rules of temperance, which appear to have governed his conduct thro’ life.

Please to accept the assurances of my profound respect & sincere attachment

Edward Dowse

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 June and so recorded in SJL with the notation “Off.” Enclosed in Joseph H. Nicholson to TJ, 29 May.

Edward Dowse (1756–1828) of Dedham, Massachusetts, was a participant in the China trade, who had earlier procured a set of porcelain for TJ and supplied him with information regarding speculation in Bank of the United States stock by Federalists in Congress. He served in Congress as a representative from Massachusetts from 1819 to 1820 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Vol. 15:563; Vol. 16:286–7; Vol. 25:315; Vol. 26:570–1, 783; Vol. 31:429–30).

Having lately applied to you: Dowse wrote TJ on 28 Apr., seeking the office of navy agent at Boston in place of Stephen Higginson. He also requested that TJ retain Ebenezer Storer as inspector of the revenue. “His character & abilities render him altogether suitable to be retain’d in office,” wrote Dowse, “the emoluments of which are the chief dependence which this gentleman (now a good deal in years,) and with a young family about him, have for a support” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off”; also endorsed by TJ: “to be Navy agent”).

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