Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Hugh Ferguson, 16 May 1801

From Hugh Ferguson

Philada. May 16th 1801

Respected sir

The undersigned, A Native Citizen of the State of Pennsylvania, begs leave to offer his service to the President in the execution of Such office as he may be pleased to confer on him.

The undersigned thinks it not improper to mention for the information of the President, that in December 1776 he was Solicited by General Mifflin to take charge of Quarter-master generals Department for Chester County, while he was young and inexperienced, and that he executed the trust together with the office of Commissary, with usefulness to the United States, and a degree of reputation to himself, until Augt. 1777 when he Resigned his trust.—During his continuance in office, he did not purchase any article for the Use of the United States on their Credit, and not being able to procure a Supply of Money owing to the then low state of the Treasury, it then became necessary for him to expend his private purce and Credit, or the Public Service must Suffer derangement.—He did not hesitate what part to act, but expended freely for the Service with which he was charged, and on his Resignation he found himself in Advance to the U States upward of Four Thousand Dollars.—

Haveing thus divested myself of my Stock in trade by my Service to the Public, I was cast on the Bounty of my Father for upwards of Six years in the prime of Youthfull ardour.—And after obtaining A Settlement of my Accounts, I received little more than half the Sum due me in A Certificate, which I was compeled to Sell for less than one third of the nominal amount, in order to procure A Small stock to begin Bussiness Again.—I doubt not sir on reviewing the foregoing statement, you will be of opinion with me, that I have born more than my proportion of the expence of our Glorious Revolution.—

I have not Stated the foregoing with the view that it should have an impression on the President Unless my conduct through life Shall appear in A Satisfactory point of View, and my qualifications equal to the performance of the dutys of the Office which may be assigned to me.—

My Profession through life has been of the Merchantile kind, I therefore trust that I would be able to execute with Reputation to myself, and Usefullness to the United States, the office of Surveyor of the Port, or Naval officer, or Purveyor of Supplys

This sir will be handed to you by my much esteemed friend John Beckley Esqr. who will give Such information respecting me as I hope will be Satisfactory.—

I am Most Respectfully sir your Most Obedt. Servt

Hugh Ferguson

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “To Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”

Hugh Ferguson, a Philadelphia merchant, was elected treasurer of the Democratic Society of Pennsylvania in 1795. As an active Jeffersonian Republican, he served as chair of the arrangements committee and presided over the celebration of TJ’s inauguration in Philadelphia on 4 Mch. Beginning in 1801, Ferguson served several terms as a Philadelphia representative in the Pennsylvania Assembly. He later held office in the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts and the Philadelphia Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Manufactures. In 1807, Ferguson was appointed a director of the Bank of Pennsylvania (Journal of the First Session of the Twelfth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster, 1801, i.e., 1802], 3; Journal of the Fifteenth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster, 1804, i.e., 1805], 3; Stafford, Philadelphia Directory, for 1800, 48; Aurora, 3 Jan., 29 May 1795, 3 Mch. 1801; Gazette of the United States, 17 Mch. 1803; United States’ Gazette, 22 Mch. 1806, 31 Jan. 1807).

Information respecting me: Ferguson also urged Gallatin and Alexander J. Dallas to exert their influence with the president on his behalf (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:248–9, 489–90).

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