Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Langdon, 22 June 1801

From John Langdon

Portsmouth June 22d. 1801


I had the honor of Addressing you the 10th. Inst. from Hopkinton from whence I return’d few days since. I have revolved in my mind the kind offer you have been pleased to make me of the Office of Secretary of the Navy, have viewed it in every shape I am able, have considered the happiness I should enjoy with my best friends, and all the other great inducements I have, to be at Washington; also on the other hand have consider’d my domestic situation, the great sacrifices I have made the last twelve years, my private Business demanding my immediate Attention, the impossability of Mrs. Langdon’s accompanying me without our Children who are soon looked for from Europe, and who hope and expect to find me out of Public Business, my friends here wishing me not to leave home, my time of life, and my Incompetency to hold the important Station, all seem to pronounce it Madness in me to Accept. Indeed my Dear Sir it is impossable for you to concieve the distress I feel, finding myself under the Necessity of again declineing your kind offer of the Secretaryship. I should have consider’d it the highest honor, as it would have been the greatest delight of my soul to have obeyed your call, but it appears next to impossiable. I am sure your goodness will rather pitty than Blame me. my Brother has Arrived and enter’d on his Agency, he has been very solicitous that I should Accept of the appointment, which (if possiable) adds to my distress. I pray you to Accept of my greatful Acknowledgements, and to beleive me with the highest possable Attachment—

Dear Sir your much Obliged

John Langdon

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 July and so recorded in SJL but as a letter dated 27 June.

Langdon wrote TJ again on 2 July, acknowledging the receipt of TJ’s letter of 22 June and thanking him for “the expressions of your goodness and kindness toward me.” Langdon had hoped to explain his reasons for declining the secretaryship of the navy in person, but “the peculiar situation of my Business at this moment” made it impossible for him to be in Washington before TJ left the city. He trusted that his letter of 22 June had reached TJ and that “before this comes to hand, some proper person may have been appointed to the office” (RC in DLC; at foot of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July and so recorded in SJL with notation “S”).

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