Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Wilson Cary Nicholas, 18 August 1801

From Wilson Cary Nicholas

Warren Aug. 18. 1801

Dear Sir

I wish it was in my power to give you the information you want, as to a proper person for collector at the port of Hampton; there has been an entire change of inhabitants in that part of the country since I was there. the person that you mention I am unacquainted with. Col. George Booker of that neighbourhood, is the most influential republican in the County of E. City; I shou’d think his recommendation might be relied on; you may however with perfect safety confide the nomination of the collector to Mr. Samuel Shields of York county and to Mr. Booker, I have no doubt that a person that they wou’d concur in recommending wou’d be worthy of the trust, and I am sure they wou’d be much gratified by this evidence of your confidence in them. The enclosed was forwarded to me by my brother Norborne, I know nothing of Capt. Eddins except that he was a capt. of artillery in our army during the war with G. Britain.

I am Dear Sir with the greatest respect your hum. Serv.

Wilson C Nicholas

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Samuel Eddins to Philip Norborne Nicholas, Richmond, 29 July 1801, seeking appointment as keeper of the lighthouse being constructed at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, and requesting Nicholas to intercede with his brother “to personally mention to the President whatever you can with propriety say in my favour” (RC in same).

Person that you Mention: Mount Edward Chisman (TJ to Thomas Newton, 14 Aug.). George Booker, Samuel Sheild (Shields), and Nicholas served together as members of the Republican coalition in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1797 through 1799 (Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 207, 209, 211, 213, 215, 217; Richard R. Beeman, The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788–1801 [Lexington, Ky., 1972], 262–3, 265).

In the enclosure described above, Samuel Eddins explained his recent service in the army. Believing that the country was on the “eve of a War” and “being in some measure rather poor,” he entered the “service, but with a determin’d resolution not to continue any longer than there appear’d to be a general Peace in our Country.” In May 1798, Eddins received an appointment as a captain of the second regiment of artillerists and engineers and continued to serve into 1800 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 23:494–5; 24:200–1, 241–2; 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 , 1:277). On 21 July 1801, Eddins wrote the president about the lighthouse appointment (recorded in SJL as received from Richmond on 24 July, but not found). On 28 July, Meriwether Jones also wrote TJ in favor of Eddins’s appointment (letter now missing, but recorded in SJL as received 6 Aug. with notation “Eddins to keep lighthouse”). TJ probably had this letter in mind when he recommended Eddins for the position at Old Point Comfort in January 1803, noting that 18 months before he had received powerful recommendations in his favor (TJ to Gallatin, 13 Jan. 1803).

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