Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George W. Erving, 24 May 1801

To George W. Erving

Washington May 24. 1801.

Dear Sir

Among the reforms in the economy of our government which we propose to make, is the discontinuance of the diplomatic missions to Berlin, the Hague & Portugal. Lisbon however being an important scene of commerce, and one where a public functionary may find occasions of rendering valuable services, it is necessary that we send thither a consul in whose talents, principles & prudence we have entire confidence. you know that no salaries or fees of any account are annexed to these offices. yet I am told that from the business they bring to the Consul, they are of great value. and indeed I should suppose so, from the prodigious number of competitors for them. I can assure you with truth that there is no person whose acceptance of that consulate would be more satisfactory to me than yours. I take the liberty therefore of proposing it to you, and of expressing my sincere desire that you may find it acceptable. recieve with this proposition the assurance of my attachment and high consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (CtY); addressed: “George Erving esq. Boston”; franked; postmarked 27 May; endorsed by Erving as answered 5 June. PrC (DLC).

George William Erving (1769–1850) was a Boston native from a Loyalist family who relocated to England during the American Revolution. Educated at Oxford, he returned to Massachusetts and early in 1800 was given a letter of introduction by Samuel Adams to TJ, whom he enthusiastically supported as an ardent Republican. Although Erving initially accepted a Lisbon post, he later declined it. Urged to consider a diplomatic post in Tunis, he ultimately accepted a consular post in London, where as a claims agent for spoliation cases he received the annual salary of $1,000 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:14, 343–4, 357–8, 482; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:307; 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 , 1:403; Vol. 31:349, 463n; TJ to James Madison, 24 June).

For the discontinuance of the diplomatic missions, see Notes on a Cabinet Meeting, 17 May.

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