Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Philip Van Cortlandt, 22 May 1801

From Philip Van Cortlandt

New York May. 22d. 1801

Dear Sir.

It is expected that a Republican Carracter will be appointed to the office of supervisor of the Revenue in this City in the place of Colo. N. Fish. and having had some conversation with my brother Pierre Van Cortlandt Junr: upon this Subject I find it will be very Acceptable to him; & altho a brother I hope there will not appear any impropriety in expressing my full approbation and of Joining my Solicitations to his for the favour of given him a preference if it shall upon due consideration be found he is well Qualified and with as good or better pretentions than the other applicants his Zeal and Exertions in the Republican cause are well established, and he has never had any lucritive station in his life, several honorary offices he has filled, the last as an Elictor for the Office of President & Vice President of the United States

I forbear going farther in the detail as I expect some other of his friends will be more explicit in Rispect to his abilities—

And am with the most perfect Esteem & Respectful Consideration Yours &c

Ph. V. Cortlandt

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 26 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”; with note by TJ on verso: “Chr. Livingston says he is a respectable man of midling talents, not used to business. he thinks the office above his talents.” Dft (NN: Van Cortlandt-Van Wyck Collection); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the United States City of Washington.”

Philip Van Cortlandt (1749–1831), eldest son of Pierre and Joanna Livingston Van Cortlandt, was born in New York City but grew up at Van Cortlandt manor at Croton-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, New York. His father served as lieutenant governor of New York from 1777 to 1795, while George Clinton was governor. Philip was elected to Congress in 1792 and continued in office as a Jeffersonian Republican until 1809 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr., a lawyer and politician who had served in the New York State Assembly in 1792 and from 1794 to 1795, was 13 years younger than his brother Philip. In June 1801, he married Catharine Clinton Taylor, daughter of George Clinton (Jacob Judd, ed., The Van Cortlandt Family Papers, 4 vols. [Tarrytown, N.Y., 1976–81], 3:xxxv–xl).

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