Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Oliver Pollock, 20 September 1801

From Oliver Pollock

West Hanover. Pennsylvania
September 20th. 1801—


Since I had the honor of a Personal interview with you early in May last, my affairs have taken a very unexpected change, and have produc’d an equal unlook’d for one in my future views respecting my situation in life.—At the above time, I sollicited of you an appointment in the City of Philada. having reasons to believe that the cares of my Family render’d such a Situation the most eligible—I have lately reciev’d letters from the Missisippi which have given me a strong desire of being settle’d in that Country: perticularly too, as I am confident I can again serve the United States in many essentials in the Spanish Government provided I was once more fix’d there in my Old Official Character—On this Subject, I address you with much diffidence, knowing through the medium of the Public Papers that you have already nominated Mr Daniel Clark to fill that Station—but, perhaps there is a way still open through which I may be indulg’d—The Senate have yet to confirm Mr Clark’s nomination; permit me to request that you will be so good as to lay this application with your own Statement before them—those, through so good a channel, with my Personal attendance; flatter me with success—

Had there been any Person nominated from the United States, which would have cost him the expence &c of a Voyage, I should not have made this Application; but as Mr Clark is there establish’d in Commerce as an Inhabitant of that Country, and of course this Appointment of no great consiquence to him, and perticularly he having in fact no pretentions to any Services render’d to the United States at any period whatever to my knowledge; he nor the Public can be disappointed or surpriss’d at my being placed in a Situation that first originated in myself—Salary Offices are most sollicited, and it is often difficult to find suitable Characters to fill an appointment in a foriegn Country without some emolument—but under my present circumstance relative to that Country, and the Change that is likely to take place in that Government; my Presence there, or any other well known character immediately from that Country, may become essentially useful to the United States—Should I be so unfortunate as not to succeed in this or some other Appointment on the Missisippi, I beg leave to refer you to my first application—In addition to the Documents I had the pleasure of presenting you with, I beg leave to add the incloss’d which will serve to refresh your memory with past occurrences—I expect to do myself the pleasure of waiting on you Personally at the next ensuing Session of Congress, and in the mean time subscribe myself with the highest respect,

Your most faithful Humbl Servt.

Olr. Pollock

PS. It may be proper for me to explain to you how the incloss’d letter from yourself to Genl De Galvez came into my Hands. At the period it was written and during the whole revolutionary War with Great Britain, I was the perticular Confident of that Gentleman and in all Translations of english Letters into the Spanish language, including all those reciev’d Officially from America as well as those intercepted from the Enemy; notwithstanding He had Persons in the Capacity of the Kings Interpreters—

After I had given him the Translation of your letter, I requested permission to keep a Copy of it, which He readily granted, and I have preserv’d it to this day—

Olr. Pollock

RC (DNA, RG 59, LAR); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson. President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Oct. and “to be Consul at N. Orleans” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Oliver Pollock, Most Respectfully Submits to the Consideration of the Members of Congress, the Following Documents, in Explanation of his Claim, Now Depending before Them, a printed pamphlet, without date or place of publication (copy in same; contains six documents from the 1780s testifying to Pollock’s actions as agent at New Orleans for the United States and Virginia). (2) Probably a copy of TJ’s letter as governor of Virginia to Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, 8 Nov. 1779, requesting financial support for Virginia’s military efforts in the west and referring to hardships incurred by Pollock; this and a short follow-up letter were apparently the only letters TJ ever addressed to Gálvez (Vol. 3:167–70; see also Vol. 27:688).

Prior to the meeting he evidently had with TJ in the spring, Pollock had written on 4 Apr. to solicit an appointment to any suitable office (Vol. 33:537–8).

My Old Official Character: from 1777 to 1781, Pollock was commercial agent at New Orleans for the Continental Congress (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

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