Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Stephen Cathalan, Jr., 14 June 1801

From Stephen Cathalan, Jr.

Marseilles the 14th. of June 1801—


By my last Respects of the 8th & 10th. April, I had the honor of Presenting you my Sincere Congratulations With these of my Whole Family on your Election to the Presidency of the united States, asking from you your Kind Protection to Continue in this Chancery of the United States—

I have Since Learned that your Predecessor John Adams Esr. has thought proper to appoint as my Successor to this office Mr. William Lee of Boston!

I am well Convinced and you wrote it to me when secretary the 26th. August 1790. “That Native Citizens are first entitled, when Such of proper character would undertake the Duties.”

I Cannot then Complain of the Preference given by your predecessor over me, but Relying however on your Justice and on the friendship you have honoured me with since many years, if I have continued to deserve it.

I beg your Reference to my official Letter of This day to the secretary of State by which I ask him as a peculiar Favor from you, If it is yet Possible to be Continued in This office also to be honored with the Citizenship of the United States—

You Know well That Long ago I desired This Favorable Tittle, that my intention Was to visit your fine Country, but Was prevented by the duty of my1 office, That I had Lodged Money in the United States to purchase Lands and you Sir, having advised to place it in the Bank of the United States, it has been done and Keep it there as a Further Security to my bound for This Consulate and as a safety for The American Citizens who Confide me Their own Interests or Money.

I having already Stated to The Secretary of State my past services as Well as in my preceding Letters to him I will not Trouble you by a Repetition but beg Leave to add That I am Confident That after my Father has done Every Thing in his power to serve both Countries of United States and France That I having followed his Example with Zeal, Integrity and Probity, you will take in your Wisdom my Critical Situation and not abandon me as a Bastard of not any Country?

With our Sincere Wishes from all my Family for a Long and your Glorious Life and Welfare as Well for you as for your Dear Beloved Country

I have the honor to be With Great Respect Sir Your most obedient Humble & devoted servant

Stephen Cathalan Junr.

RC (DLC); at head of text: “Copy”; addressed: “The hble. Thos. Jefferson Esqr. President of the united States of America Washington-City”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

On 18 Feb., John Adams named William Lee commercial agent at Marseilles and Isaac Cox Barnet to the same position at Bordeaux. Although the Senate approved both nominations on 24 Feb., TJ considered them to be midnight appointments. On 3 June he gave Lee the position at Bordeaux in place of Barnet, and on 8 July he restored Cathalan as commercial agent at Marseilles (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 , 1:381, 385; commissions in DNA: RG 59, PTCC; Vol. 33:671, 676; Lee to TJ, [before 9] Mch. 1801).

26th. August 1790: TJ’s letter was a circular of instructions and information for consuls and vice consuls (Vol. 17:423–5).

Cathalan’s official letter of 14 June to the secretary of state enclosed copies of communications from James Cathcart at Tripoli and touched on other matters. With regard to his possible continuation in the consular post at Marseilles, Cathalan noted that under the most recent French constitution he had no rights as a citizen, yet he had received no response to his earlier request for United States citizenship (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 , 1:316).

Lodged Money in the United States: in 1796, John Mason and Joseph Fenwick, who at the time were in partnership in Georgetown, deposited $6,000 to Cathalan’s account in the Bank of the United States. TJ’s letter advising Cathalan about placing the funds has not been found (Vol. 29:368, 369n).

1Cathalan here canceled “Country.”

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