Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joel R. Poinsett, 24 July 1801

From Joel R. Poinsett

New York No. 128 Broad Way
July 24th 1801

In an Application I made a few days since to Mr. Livingston for permission to embark with the Embassy, he informed me that he had referred all applications to you. If Sir Mr. Livingston’s suite is not already full, and if it will not commit the dignity of the Embassy, I entreat you will grant me the Permission, as Health and Information the objects of my Pursuit will be more highly gratified in such pleasurable Society, than in a solitary Passage to France. Had I been aware of the necessity of applying to you Sir, I would have prefered my Request in Person, when I had the honor of being presented to you by my Friend Mr. Sumter, to accompany whom is one of the chief Inducements to this application.

I have the honor to be with the most Perfect Consideration your Excellency’s Obedet: St.

J. R. Poinsett

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at head of text: “His Excellency Th President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 Aug. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “referred to Secy. of State.” Enclosed in Thomas Sumter, Jr., to James Madison, 6 Aug. (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 , 2:20).

Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779–1851) was a native of Charleston, who spent many of his early years abroad. Abandoning his medical studies in Edinburgh, he returned to Charleston in 1800 and departed the following year to undertake a grand tour of Europe. He went on to a distinguished diplomatic and political career, which included service as the first U.S. minister to Mexico (1825–1830) and as secretary of war in Martin Van Buren’s cabinet (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Poinsett would not be among Robert R.Livingston’s Suite that departed from New York for France in the frigate Boston in October (George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746–1813 [New York, 1960], 309; PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877– description ends , 59 [1935], 8; TJ to Madison, 22 Aug. 1801).

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