Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from DeWitt Clinton, 14 September 1801

From DeWitt Clinton

New York 14 September 1801.


In the event of a resignation of the Loan Officer of this State (which I am informed will be the case) I have taken the liberty to recommend James Nicholson Esquire of this City as his successor: His connection with the Secretary of the Treasury will I hope excuse my addressing this letter immediately to yourself.

Mr. Nicholson is I am persuaded fully adequate to the duties of the office; he is a man of inflexible integrity, a firm republican, of high consideration with the friends of the republican interest, and his appointment will unquestionably be very acceptable; His age, his standing in the community, and let me add his sincere and disinterested attachment to principles independent of all improper political & personal biases, impress the community very strongly in his favor.

I do not conceal that I have from my first acquaintance with Mr. Nicholson entertained a very great friendship for him—possibly I may in my recommendation be too much influenced by a sentiment of this kind—I have seen him in the day of proscription and peril as well as in the time of triumph & exultation—and in every scene he has received the confidence of your friends and the friends of the Country.

I have the honor to be, With every sentiment of sincere attachment and respect Your most Obedt. servt.

DeWitt Clinton

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); addressed: “The President of the United States Washington”; endorsed by Gallatin.

DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828) graduated from Columbia College in 1786 and was admitted to the bar in 1790, at the time serving as secretary for Governor George Clinton, his uncle. In 1797, he was elected to the state assembly and in 1798 to the state senate, where he served until appointed to the U.S. Senate in February 1802. In October 1803, he resigned to become mayor of New York City, a position he held for about ten years between 1803 and 1815. Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1812 led to his isolation from the Republican party and his removal as mayor. In 1817, Clinton won the special gubernatorial election held after Governor Daniel Tompkins became vice president. Popular for his advocacy of a waterway to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, Clinton won reelection as governor in 1820, 1824, and 1826. He did not run in 1822. In 1825 he led the celebration upon the completion of the Erie Canal (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Resignation of the loan officer: on 12 Sep., Matthew Clarkson wrote TJ a short letter of resignation as commissioner of loans for New York. In conclusion he noted, “I shall continue Sir to execute the duties of the Office until it is perfectly convenient to you to appoint me a Successor” (RC in DNA: RG 59, RD, with second digit of date reworked to “12th,” at foot of text: “The President of the United States,” endorsed by TJ as a letter of 18 Sep. received the 24th and so recorded in SJL; Tr in NNC: Jay Papers, in Clarkson’s hand, dated 12 Sep.). On 5 Nov. Clarkson again wrote TJ and enclosed a copy of the letter of 12 Sep., apprehending that the president might not have received it (RC in DLC, at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States,” endorsed by TJ as received 9 Nov. and so recorded in SJL; Tr in NNC: Jay Papers, in Clarkson’s hand).

His connection: Nicholson was Gallatin’s father-in-law. At Gallatin’s request, he consulted Republicans in New York City in May 1800 to recommend a candidate for vice president. TJ appointed Nicholson commissioner of loans in November 1801 (Vol. 31:556–7n; Vol. 33:670, 677).

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