Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joel Lewis, 16 July 1801

From Joel Lewis

Christa Bridge July 16. 1801

Esteemed Sir,

It gives me pain to trouble you on the present occasion, but having been informed that efforts have been made to render you dissatisfied with my appointment as Marshal of the Del. District.—I consider it my duty to inform you, that I valued the reception of the Commission only as a tender of your good opinion, & I do not wish to retain it under the [demand?] of your disapprobation—If, when the present clamor subsides, you have reason to believe it is in your power to make a better choice, I shall resign my Commission with pleasure into your hand, to be disposed of as you may think proper—The Representations which have been made respecting me, are so unexpected that I should have been at a loss to account for them, if I were not informed of Secret Interests in opperation for Selfish purposes—I am said to be accused of inordinate political Zeal and criminated for warmth of natural disposition—and I frankly confess—if to have been susceptible of the political destiney of my Country—if to have exerted my best endeavours to preserve the liberties of America & expressing my enjoyment in the present State of things be criminal, then I am a political Culprit, therein, I must disregard my present enemies—

My greatest crime is that I am definate, (or at least some of my enemies would wish to make it a crime) I possess the same principles I did in 1776 and believe I shall untill the end of my existence—I am Sir with greatfull regard your Most Obedt. and very humble Servt.

Joel Lewis

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “Thos. Jefferson Esqr. Presidt. of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 July and so recorded in SJL.

Joel Lewis of New Castle County was a former member of the Delaware House of Representatives and commissioner of the county’s levy court. His daughter Eliza married Dr. John Vaughan of Wilmington in 1797. Despite the controversy that surrounded his appointment as marshal for Delaware, Lewis remained in the position until May 1809 (Scharf, History of Delaware description begins J. Thomas Scharf, The History of Delaware, 1609–1888, Philadelphia, 1888, 2 vols. description ends , 1:493; 2:628; Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols. [Wilmington, 1908], 1:272; 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 , 2:122).

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