Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Rittenhouse, 8 October 1801

From Benjamin Rittenhouse

Montgomery Couty. State of
Pensylvania Ocr. 8th 1801


Powerfully impress’d with the apparent impropriety of personal importunity, and perfectly sensible of the great work and important duties of the Executive of a great nation, Were it not for the urgent perswasion of a number of Gentlemen of Character in this State who originally induc’d me to make application, and whose friendship perhaps have much overated my claim to your patronage, I shou’d not again presume to Trouble you with further solicitation being perfectly convinc’d of your inclination to do what you concieve will most tend to promote the common Interest of our country. But shoud a leasure hour Occur to bestow attention to my application and shou’d you be pleas’d to honour me with an appointment worth acceptance, you may depend on my unremited indeavours to merit your favor, and it will be receiv’d with gratitude by Sir

Your Devoted Humble Servant

Benjn. Rittenhouse

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); at foot of text: “His Excellency, Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to Gallatin, 15 Oct. (see below).

Originally Induc’d Me to Make Application: see Rittenhouse to TJ, 17 Mch. 1801. In support of Rittenhouse’s application, TJ received an undated recommendation signed by all of the Montgomery County members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1801, including Isaiah Davis, Nathaniel B. Boileau, Frederic Conrad, and Samuel Henderson, representatives; John Richards, the state senator and former congressman; Pennsylvania Republicans Jacob Morgan and William Barton; and seven others. They noted Rittenhouse’s service during the Revolution and his uniform Republican principles. His well-known mechanical and mathematical abilities designated him as “a suitable person to an appointment in the Mint department” or whatever office the president thought proper (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR, in an unidentified hand; Journal of the First Session of the Twelfth House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Lancaster, 1801, i.e., 1802], 4; Journal of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [same], 4; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Harry Marlin Tinkcom, The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania 1790–1801: A Study in National Stimulus and Local Response [Harrisburg, 1950], 201, 231).

On 15 Oct., TJ sent Rittenhouse’s letter to Gallatin with a covering note: “You best know the writer of the inclosed, what he is fit for, and if any thing may probably arise fit for him. I inclose it merely to have him in mind. his name & family possess the public respect” (RC in NHi: Gallatin Papers; addressed: “The Secretary of the Treasury”).

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