From Samuel Latham Mitchill
New York. July 23. 1801
I hope you will pardon my forwardness in troubling you with any thing relative to executive business. But understanding that the Consulate at Algiers had become vacant, and that Dr. George Davis sollicited an appointment to that place, I have consented to state to you merely what I know concerning the character and fitness of this candidate.
He has passed reputably thro the Course of education prescribed for Students in the Arts in Columbia College, and is within a few Days to receive his Master’s Degree. In addition to this, he has applied himself to the Medical Profession, and after acquiring handsome proficiency therein, has served in the Navy of the United States several years, usefully, as I believe, and faithfully.
I consider Mr. Davis, as active, intelligent and enterprizing; and likely to be faithful in every thing entrusted to him. I think I need not say more—than to assure you of my high consideration and Respect
Saml L Mitchill
RC (DLC: Madison Papers); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States.” Enclosed in George Davis to Madison, 24 July 1801 (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 , 1:470–1).
Consulate at Algiers: Richard O’Brien remained U.S. consul general until 1803 (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 , 5:47, 185).
The younger brother of Matthew L. Davis, George Davis received his commission as surgeon in the U.S. Navy in July 1799 and served on the U.S. frigates Adams and New York. He retained his naval appointment under the Peace Establishment Act of 1801, but in July he actively began to seek the consulship at Algiers. Dr. Davis conversed with Madison in Washington and followed his interview with several letters to the secretary of state. The one of 24 July enclosed the letter above and a recommendation by Edward Livingston, which he urged Madison to show the president. Davis also noted that the vice president would soon visit the capital and speak on his behalf. In 1802, Robert Smith recommended Davis to head a proposed naval hospital in the Mediterranean (NDQW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France, Naval Operations, Washington, D.C., 1935–38, 7 vols. (cited by years) description ends , Dec. 1800–Dec. 1801, 325, 364, 369; 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 , 1:404, 459, 470–1; Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:525n, 580–1; 2:684).
On 11 Aug. John Kemp, professor of mathematics at Columbia College, whom TJ had consulted in 1790 when preparing his report on weights and measures, also wrote the president recommending Dr. Davis for an appointment “to some Port on the Mediterranean.” As a student at Columbia, Davis was under Kemp’s “immediate tuition” for several years. Kemp respected Davis for “his talents his acquirements and his laudable Ambition to attain distinction as a man of Science and letters; but More particularly for his candour his Strict Sense of honour and unblemished integrity.” Kemp concluded: “Having no view but that which regards the public good and the success of your administration, I beg you to pardon this intrusion if such it can be considered” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL; Vol. 16:xxxii, 580–1, 614).