Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas McKean, 10 August 1801

From Thomas McKean

Philadelphia. August 10th. 1801.

Dear Sir,

Your esteemed letter of the 24th. last month I received, and I confess the sentiments therein expressed coeincide with my own: The hearts of our opponent leaders I do not expect to gain, but those of the persons lead by them may be secured by the measures you suggest, and when the principals discover the desertion, prudence & self-interest will induce at least a cessation of their hostilities, but I rest assured from long and attentive experience, that no measures Your Excellency or myself can adopt will ever obtain their cordial approbation, and that whenever a favorable opportunity shall occur they will exhibit their accustomed enmity against the true & firm friends of the American Revolution & of our present happy form of Republican Government.

Your answer to the impudent & ill-written remonstrance of the Tory merchants of Newhaven has been read with avidity and pleasure by all the Gentlemen with whom I converse; one Gentleman of higher mettle observed, that you honored them too much by giving them any answer whatsoever, but soon after acknowledged it might be proper, as it applied to every other of the like kind, and developed to the world the wise and just principles by which you were actuated.

When ever any party are notoriously predominant they will split; this is in nature, it has been the case time immemorial, and will be so until mankind become wiser & better—The Outs envy the Inns—The struggle in such a situation is only for the loaves & fishes.

In this State as well as Delaware it has manifested itself on account of what I have just mentioned, but by cautious & well-advised measures I can assure you, as much as a circumstance of the kind can be assured, that in Pennsylvania the division will be healed, and I flatter myself it will also be effected in Delaware.

The thirst for office is immoderate, it has become an object of serious attention, and I wish I knew how to check it.

Permit me now, Sir, to inclose a lre. I received on Saturday from Mr; Charles D. Coxe, as it will save me some time & trouble in going into detail; I beleive the contents are true. Mr; Coxe’s parents have been well known to me upwards of forty years, his mother died about four months ago, he has a sister married to Mr; Tench Coxe and another to Mr; Chamont, son of a considerable Banker in Paris, who was an Intimate acquaintance of Doctor Franklin and probably not unknown to you. Colo. Jones (member of Congress for this city) and Messrs. Girard, Vasse and Vanuxem, three French merchants here (the last a native of Dunkirk) all sincere Republican citizens, together with a great number of other respectable citizen-merchants have recommended him to your Excellency, and I can add my opinion in his favor.

Accept the assurance of the most sincere respect and friendship of, dear Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient humble servt

Tho M:Kean

RC (DLC); addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esq; President of the United States At Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Charles D. Coxe to McKean, Philadelphia, 7 Aug., reminding the governor of his promise to send a letter of recommendation for him to the president; recalling his active pursuit of mercantile interests, primarily with “French possessions in the old and new world,” where he “acquired a knowledge of the language and an enlarged acquaintance with the particular modes of Commerce peculiar to the French” and was twice plundered by British cruisers “& cruelly stript of the fruits of several years application to business”; therefore seeking a position as consul at the ports of Dunkirk and Calais, which could be managed by one consul, or Île de France, where he resided for more than six months and became acquainted with the “Trade and principal inhabitants”; and finally noting that he had solicited the consulate at Île de France under the Adams administration, but had been “totally disregarded” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR).

Coxe’s Parents: Charles and Rebecca Wells Coxe, who for decades lived at Sidney, a few miles from Flemington, New Jersey. In 1782, Charles D. Coxe’s sister, Rebecca, married her first cousin Tench Coxe. Another sister, Grace, married Jacques Le Ray de Chaumont, whose father, Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, had corresponded with TJ (Cooke, Coxe description begins Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic, Chapel Hill, 1978 description ends , 54, 406; Leonard W. Labaree and others, eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 38 vols. to date [1959– ], 28:239; Vol. 13:286–7).

William Jones, Stephen Girard, Ambrose Vasse, and James Vanuxem were among the 78 Philadelphians who signed a petition addressed to TJ, on 20 July, recommending Charles D. Coxe as consul for the United States at Dunkirk or Île de France. Clement Biddle headed the list of signers (MS in DNA: RG 59, LAR, in an unidentified hand, at head of text: “To His Excellency The President of The United States of America”; Tr in same). The petition may have been enclosed in a short letter from Coxe to TJ, dated 7 Aug., at Philadelphia, in which he put himself forward as a candidate for consul at Dunkirk or Île de France and forwarded recommendations (RC in same; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esq. President of the Unite[d States]”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”).

TJ appointed Coxe the U.S. commercial agent at Dunkirk, signing a temporary commission, dated 16 Oct. 1801, and another commission, after Senate confirmation, dated 26 Jan. 1802. In his lists of appointments, TJ noted that Coxe was appointed on 17 Oct. in place of James H. Hooe, a midnight appointment (FCs in DNA: RG 59, PTCC; 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 , 1:402, 405; Vol. 33:672, 677). In 1806, Coxe began serving as chargé d’affaires in Tunis. He became consul there in 1824. The next year he was transferred to Tripoli, where he died in 1830 or 1831 (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 , 3:357, 449; 4:151; NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 6:491–2, 520).

Index Entries