Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Austin, 30 June 1801

From David Austin

Washington June 30th. 1801.

Respected Sir.

—Some of the young Gentlemen, at table, this day, observed, that of a late appropriation by Congress, for the use of the Clerkship, the Secretary of the Treasury was about to retain 5 per Ct. in view of compensation to additional aid required in his own office: I have thought that to employ my leisure hours, it would be very agreeable to receive an appointment to any duties wh. might fall within the reach of my talents in this office.

Will the President excuse the freedom used, whilst I request that if the informa. be correct; & any such aid is needed, I might have the sanction of the President’s name in an introduction to the remembrance of the Secretary?

The favor ever acknowd: by

D. Austin

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 June and so recorded in SJL.

Austin made another request for an office in a brief letter to TJ of 6 July, this time specifying an appointment in the Navy Department. He claimed that his “acquaintance with ship-building, rigging, sailing & fighting may be a pledge of his ability to serve the Executive, in any branch of this department to him allotted” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ as received 6 July and so recorded in SJL). Austin reiterated his interest in a navy appointment in a 17 July letter to TJ, which also suggested that appointing a clergyman to his cabinet would counter those who attacked the president on religious grounds. “They throw it constantly in the teeth of the President, that he prefers, for office, Men, destitute of certain qualities wh. are calculated to give a morsel to the hope of the borders of Zion,” wrote Austin. If TJ appointed him to office, however, Austin felt sure that his critics “would never, more say, the President was not a friend to Zion, so long as he had a Chaplain in his counsels” (RC in same; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Prest U: States Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July and so recorded in SJL).

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