Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 10 August 1801

From Albert Gallatin

City of Washington 10th August 1800 [i.e. 1801]

Dr Sir

I have the honor to enclose the following papers vizt.

1st. Extract of a letter from the Collector of Sag harbour Long Island on the application of hospital money. The same complaints have occasionally been made by other collectors in those small ports from whence the money has heretofore been drawn to the principal port. It might be a good rule to permit the Collectors of those small ports to expend when necessary a sum not exceeding one half of the monies there collected, reserving the other half to assist the ports of the same State, when from any extraordinary cause the expence1 would be greater in any one year than the receipts, to purchase stocks or to erect hospitals. But, as mentioned in a former letter, an exception is necessary in relation to Charleston S.C. & principally Norfolk on account of the public hospital there. I have as yet no answer to the permission requested to apply in relation to those two ports part of the money collected in the adjoining States.
2d. Mr Page’s letter recommending Mount Ed. Chisman for Collector of Hampton instead of William Kerby to be removed for delinquency as pr. your answer to my official report on that subject. Two months have elapsed since I had applied to Mr Page for a recommendation & if you approve One of the blank commissions may be filled accordingly.
3d. Govr. Jackson’s, of Georgia, recommendation in favor of T. De Mottos Johnson for Collector Savannah instead of Powell to be removed for the same cause as Kerby. The port of Savannah being of great importance & the accounts much deranged, render it essential that a perfectly suitable & very2 active man should be appointed. From Messrs. Taliafero, Millege & Baldwin to whom I had writen on the subject no answer is yet received. You will be pleased to decide whether a commission should issue also in this case.
4th Letters from Watson Collect. of Plymouth & Gen. Lincoln Collector of Boston in relation to the enquiry into Watson’s conduct & its result. It is presumable that the liberality displayed in this instance had a good effect
5th A letter from Charles Pinckney on the propriety of removals there & one from Simmons showing his compliance with a former circular in rendering his accounts. The letter from Mr Pinckney, who has since sailed, was received the next day after I had written to you on the same subject & had enclosed St. Th. Mason’s letter. It shows that I was not mistaken in what I had understood to be Mr Pinckney’s opinion. But it shows also that Mr Doyley who was Gen. Mason’s correspondent & said that a removal after the meeting of Congress should be too late, is the candidate for the office. There is something mysterious in that & in your having recieved such different impressions on that subject from what I had. It is necessary that the true situation of affairs there should be known, & it is desirable that it may not be necessary to remove the Collector. He is the only active officer who has yet been obtained there. His predecessor Holmes had left every thing in immense confusion. Much has been recovered through Simmons’s exertions, & although the general relaxation, which pervaded3 the internal administration of this & every other department during the reign of energy, had produced the delay of his accounts, you see with what rapidity he has regained the time lost.
6th. Letters from Mr Lincoln atty. general on present aspect in Massachusets—from Gov. Langdon wishing for more removals & enclosing a letter from Judge Burke S.C. wishing also for some & recommending Ths. Burke to the office in Savannah for which Gov. Jackson recommends Johnson—& from Mr Osgood of thanks.
7th. return of Warrants issued last week amounting to Dlrs. 90,804.12 At the beginning of the week 3d. August the balance of cash in the Treasury was 2,520,228.42. On the 25th May which was the first regular return I could obtain the balance was 1,926,263.05. The surplus money, for we have got more than we want in the Treasury, is applied as fast as we can procure good bills to purchase remittances for Holland where we have to pay 1,900,000 dollars next year, & if we do not take care to be beforehand, will necessarily raise the exchange by purchasing large sums at once. But this place is unfavorable on account of the distance from Philada. & NewYork. You must altogether depend on Banks or private agents. I have not been able to purchase since beginning of July more than about 300,000 dollars worth, the whole at 39 cents. Exchange is now at 40 & I must stop; otherwise Governt. continuing to purchase would raise it above par.

Jonas Clark Collector of Kennebunk was it seems appointed Inspector of external revenue by the late Presidt. & Senate, but through some mistake notice not given to the Dept. of State & no commission issued. In all the ports where there is a surveyor, he receives also a commission of inspector which is necessary in the performance of some of his duties in relation to imported teas & spirits. In the ports where, as Kennebunk, there is no Surveyor, the Collector receives the same commission. Considering it as a matter of course, I have filled one of the blank commissions with his name for that office, which, I hope, will meet your approbation.

Govr. Drayton has communicated that Ed. Darrel had accepted the place of Commissr. of direct tax for the first division of South Carolina, for which he had received a blank commission; Mr Darrel has also written & hopes to complete the assessment in Nover. That of N. Carolina is completed. No answer yet on that subject from Georgia.

The answer to New Haven seems to have had a greater effect than had been calculated upon. The republicans hope for a greater number of removals; the federals also expect it. I have already received several letters from Philada. applying for the offices of customs upon the ground that it is generally understood that the officers there are to be removed. There is no doubt that the federal leaders are making a powerful effort to rally their party on the same ground. Although some mistakes may have been made, as to the proper objects both of removal & appointment, it does not appear that less than what has been done could have been done without injustice to the republicans. But ought much more to be done? It is so important for the permanent establishment of those republican principles of limitation of power & public economy, for which we have successfully contended, that they should rest on the broad basis of the people & not on a fluctuating party majority, that it would be better to displease many of our political friends than to give an opportunity to the irreconcilable enemies of a free government of inducing the mass of the federal citizens to make a common cause with them. The sooner we can stop the ferment the better, and at all events it is not desirable that it should affect the eastern & Southern parts of the Union. I fear less from the importunity for obtaining offices, than from the arts of those men whose political existence depends on that of party. Office hunters cannot have much influence; but the other class may easily persuade the warmest of our friends that more ought to be done for them. Upon the whole although a few more changes may be necessary, I hope there will be but few. The number of removals is not great, but in importance they are beyond their number. The Supervisors of all the violent party States embrace all the Collectors. Add to that the intended change in the Post-office & you have in fact every man in office out of the sea-ports. Whilst on that subject, is it not proper that the suppression of the 19 offices of inspectors worth 20,000 dollars should be known & understood? If you approve, I would send to the press the Order itself which you signed for that purpose.

Duane is here & applies for two appointments in favor of Gardner a native of Pennsylvania & Campbell an united Irishman the two clerks who gave him the transcript of the accounts of Dayton Pickering &c. The last was suspected & turned out; the first was not suspected but resigned. He wants Gardner to be made Agent with the Choctaw Indians & Campbell to have a commission in the army. Whatever impropriety there might be in their conduct, I have reason to believe Gardner to be a man of honor. Campbell is very impudent but as enthusiastic as his friends (the U. Ir. I mean)4 commonly are.

Mr Thornton presses for a decision in the question of admission of French privateers & their prizes. I can give no opinion having never considered the subject; but unless it is much clearer than I expect, it seems that delay is desirable, at least until after the ratification of the French Convention. I know that you must at last meet the question; but Thornton would not speak if he was not instructed, & the importance of a decision is too great to be risked on any but the strongest grounds.

Hoping to hear soon from you, I remain with great respect Dear Sir Your most obt. Servt

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 13 Aug. and so recorded in SJL with notation “multifarious.” Enclosures: (1) John Page to Gallatin, 31 July 1801 (not found, but see Page to Gallatin, 18 Aug., in Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:601). (2) Benjamin Lincoln to Gallatin, Boston, 31 July, stating that he was pleased with the decision in the case of William Watson, because “it relieved the Mind of an old public servant, whose Character through life has hardly been shaded with a blemish, from a state of perplexing anxiety,” and concluding that “through the whole investigation there appeared a firmness ornamental in the chief Majistrate, and a Candour which cannot fail of inspiring confidence & esteem.” (3) Levi Lincoln to Gallatin, Worcester, 29 July, noting that except for Federalist newspapers and “the exertions of some violent people to keep it alive,” the spirit of opposition was subsiding in Massachusetts and “misrepresentations & slander” were “losing ground and yielding to truth, and candid explanations,” with TJ’s answer to the New Haven merchants having had a good effect and leaving “our Boston friends… in a preposterous situation” because “their conduct is changed but their principles are unaltered,” and concluding with a recommendation of Samuel Flagg, Jr., to serve as an officer on the Boston under Captain Daniel McNeill. (4) John Langdon to Gallatin, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 30 July, enclosing Aedanus Burke to Langdon, undated, recommending Langdon’s friend Thomas Burke, who had firmly adhered to his republican principles during the system of terror in 1798 and 1799, as collector at Savannah and describing him as a merchant with property there who until recently had resided in Charleston, where he had many influential friends. (5) Samuel Osgood to Gallatin, New York, 4 Aug., thanking Gallatin and the president for his appointment as supervisor of New York, an office more valuable than he had contemplated, and promising to give “steady attention” to the business (RCs in NHi: Gallatin Papers; Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:469, 478, 484, 512). (6) “Weekly return of Warrants issued on the Treasurer for the week ending 8th August 1801,” listing seven warrants, Nos. 105 to 111, for a total of $90,804.12, including two for the civil list, one being an appropriation under courts and prisons to Daniel C. Brent for $99.76; one miscellaneous, under appropriations for unclaimed merchandise, in favor of Paul Coulon, attorney, for the ship Betsy Cathcart, for $34,038.48; two for the War Department, both in favor of Samuel Meredith, one for the army for $25,000 and one for the purchase of arms for $25,000; one for intercourse with foreign nations for $203.75 for the protection of seamen; and two for the public debt, being interest on the domestic debt in favor of the Bank of Columbia for $4,431.35; leaving a balance of specie in the Treasury at the end of the week of $2,477,387.16 (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 115:19803; in Gallatin’s hand and initialed by him). (7) John Drayton to TJ, 29 July 1801. Other enclosures not found.

Collector of Sag harbour: Henry P. Dering (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 6:258). For Gallatin’s former letter on funds collected for marine hospitals, see his first letter to the president on 29 July.

My official report: see Gallatin’s Report on Delinquent Collectors, 9 June. TJ’s answer to the report may have been given verbally, for no response has been found or recorded in SJL.

President Adams nominated Jonas Clark as collector of Kennebunk on 9 May 1800, but he did not include the office of inspector in the appointment. Clark appears on TJ’s lists of appointments at 4 Aug., under his additional position as inspector (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 , 1:353; Vol. 33:671, 677).

Letters from Philada.: William Duane, Alexander J. Dallas, and Moses Levy brought Gallatin several applications from friends in Philadelphia requesting that the Treasury secretary use his influence with the president to help them gain federal appointments. Citing “some recent Information & the Presidents answer to the merchants of new Haven,” Anthony Butler wrote Gallatin on 29 July, applying for the customs collectorship in place of George Latimer. On the same date John M. Taylor requested that Gallatin keep him in mind if changes were made “in the Customshouse here.” Alexander Boyd recommended James Gamble as naval officer at the port, and Blair McClenachan applied for the position of purveyor of public supplies in place of Israel Whelen (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:460–1, 472–4, 504, 510; 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 , 1:352).

I would send to the press the Order: see note to Executive Order on Revenue Districts, printed at 29 July.

For the plight of William P. Gardner and Anthony Campbell, see William Duane to TJ, 1 Mch. 1801.

Question of admission of French Privateers: in a letter to Madison of 24 July, Edward Thornton made several complaints of U.S. neutrality violations, one being that the French armed ship Beguine, under the guise of regular commerce, had remained at Boston and “equipped herself in that harbour in a hostile manner in order to cruize against His Majesty’s Subjects.” As with the Windsor, Thornton noted that he had gathered the information from the newspapers. On 3 Aug., Wagner brought Thornton’s charge to Gallatin’s attention. The next day Gallatin sent Benjamin Lincoln a copy of the paragraph from Thornton’s letter regarding the French vessel and requested that the Boston collector “take immediate measures for ascertaining whether the facts,” as stated by Thornton, were correct and called for the implementation of the Treasury Department circular of 4 Aug. 1793, which forbade the arming of privateers at U.S. ports (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 5:507–8; 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 , 1:270–1, 473–4, 2:12–14, 57–8; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 15:178–81).

1Word interlined in place of “demand.”

2Word interlined.

3Word interlined in place of “marred.”

4Phrase in parentheses interlined.

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