Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Peter Frailey and Others, 7 July 1801

From Peter Frailey and Others

Reading, Berks County in Pennsa. July 7th. 1801

We have taken the liberty of transmitting to you a recommendation in favor of John Ludwig a citizen of this place, for the office of inspector of this district. As it has been currently reported, and generally believed that a change is proposed in that office we have been induced to obtrude on your leisure by recommending John Ludwig in opposition to a certain Mr. Christ who we understand has likewise been recommended to your Excellency for the inspectorship of this district. We hope your Excellency will have the goodness to pardon this our seemingly unwarranted interference in the exercise of your official duty, and discretion, when we shall have assigned reasons, which we deem substantial, why the said Mr. Christ who is also an inhabitant of this Borough, should not be favored with such a mark of confidence by a Government, to which we conceive him no real friend. Tho’ he professes himself an advocate for the principles of Republicanism, we cannot be prevailed on to give sanction, by our connivance, to an imposition so glaring. True it is, that some years since, he stood fair in the estimation of, and was warmly supported by, all the Republicans of this County, but the scene is changed, and this confidence has with great propriety & Justice been withdrawn, he having forfeited all pretensions thereto—The steps he has on several occasions taken, to thwart the plans of the Republicans of this County, who are numerous, and are governed by the genuine principles of Our excellent constitution, inspired the belief, that if he were a republican, his principles were of the mercenary kind, caused this opposition, and changed the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens into hatred and distrust.—Information of his appointment, would be heard with surprize & displeasure by the Republicans, generally speaking, in this, as well as the neighbouring counties. Nay, we further believe, we can, with little trouble, satisfactorily establish that he has within a few Months publicly declared, that he rejoiced at the success with which your Excellency had met in the late General Election for a Chief Magistrate of the Union, as the people would now have an opportunity of knowing the Rascals (meaning the Republicans) that wished to govern—These circumstances we can substantiate, but if, notwithstanding, your Excellency should think proper to commission him, after this representation, tho we must regret and acquiesce in the appointment, we have the consolation for our pains, that arises from a consciousness of having done our duty, in giving your Excellency the information which we conceived incumbent on us to give you.—

On the other hand the Gentleman Mr John Ludwig, whom we, together with some of the most respectable inhabitants of this County, have the honor of recommending to your Excellency, is a man of Good character, generally esteemed by his fellow Citizens, and a firm and tried friend to the Republican principles of our Constitution, whose appointment would give general satisfaction to the Republicans of this as well as of the neighbouring Counties

We have the honor to subscribe ourselves, Your Excellency’s Most obedient Hmble. Servts.

P Frailey

Daniel Rose

Peter Filbert

Jos: Hiester

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); in unknown hand, signed by Frailey, Rose, Filbert, and Hiester; addressed: “To his Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States of America”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 July and “John Ludwig to be inspector of the district” and so recorded in SJL but as a letter of the 13th; TJ later canceled “Frailey & others” in the endorsement.

Peter Frailey and Daniel Rose represented Berks County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Joseph Hiester was a Republican representative in Congress (Journal of the First Session of the Tenth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster, 1799], 4; Journal of the First Session of the Eleventh House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster, 1800], 4; Harry Marlin Tinkcom, The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania 1790–1801: A Study in National Stimulus and Local Response [Harrisburg, 1950], 168, 189; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

John Ludwig voted against ratification of the Constitution at the Pennsylvania convention in 1787 and served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the early 1790s (Journal of the First Session of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1790], 3; Journal of the First Session of the Second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1792], 22; Journal of the First Session of the Third House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1792], 4; DHRC description begins Merrill Jensen, John P. Kaminski, Gaspare J. Saladino, and others, eds., The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Madison, Wis., 1976– , 21 vols. description ends , 2:327, 639).

These same four subscribers and seven others signed an earlier letter of support for Ludwig. Dated 4 July, the letter described Ludwig as “an old Inhabitant of Berks County, a Man of Integrity and Credit who has frequently been chosen as a Representative in the Legislature of Pennsylvania, who is now a Justice of the Peace and who is known to be one of the firmest Republicans in Berks County” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; in an unidentified hand; at head of text: “To the President of the United States”). Among the signers were two former Berks County representatives to the state legislature, Christian Lower and John Spayd (Journal of the First Session of the Fifth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1795], 4; Journal of the First Session of the Sixth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1795, i.e., 1796], 4).

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