Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Levi Lincoln, 24 October 1801

From Levi Lincoln

Worcester Octo 24. 1801—

President of the United States

Perceiving by a paper, just received, that Mr Madison had arrived at Washington, I am reminded of my own situation in reference to the Government. I have had no letter for a long time, which, is considered, as a proper, though, severe punishment for my neglect in not writing myself. I have no apology, unless the want of something of importance, enough to be communicated can be allowed, as such. The complexion of the public papers, are not much changed. This is undoubtedly owing to the labours of the editors, & a few other individuals. The tone of conversation, among the people, and even, among the federalist, with few exceptions, is much altered & is softening daily. The clergy in general are become silent, say but little & pray with caution. Some of them continue to write, Doct. Dwight the President of Yale College, & Smith, of a college in the jersey’s, have lately been in Boston strengthening their brethern; but I am told, in public, they have been prudent, on politicks. The spirit of opposition is certainly enfeebled, & in time, with some intermediate struggles for life, will die away. The violent, having exhausted, & worn out their common place slander against1 the General Government, will sink into a torpor, or attack the state Governments as they become republican, which they are every where doing. Accounts from New Hampshire are promising. The Yeomenry of Massachusetts are getting right. I am deceived, or our next legislature will be republican. I most heartily rejoice on the issue of the late elections, & congratulate you on the propitious aspect, they have to the general Government. I inclose you for the reasons heretofore assigned, two more papers. Public opinion having connected, the writer with an officer of your Government, it is proper you should know how far you may appear involved in the imputations thrown on him. They are written, with design, rather loosely, and with a preference, to the use of general terms, in many places. One object has been, to get the public attention, & prepare it for something more particular. Whether they have had any effect, is not for me to decide. Republican partiality, or perhaps, flatery, say they are doing good. The excitement, and the opponents, they have occasiond are favorable symptoms. Could I believe my services, or attendence, of any immediate importance to you, at the seat of Government, I should hurry on. Mrs. Lincoln is upstairs, with an addition to my family. The arrangements, which I have been revolving in my own mind, are to go to Boston in a few days, perhaps to Salem & Providence, for the sake of seeing some political friends, and to set out for Washington the fore part of next month. If it is your wish, that I hurry, a line on the subject will hasten the business. The enclosed letter, from Mr Brown, with the abstract of the expenditures for the repairs of the Berceu, I lately received. They are large, though I presumed supplied with care & economy by the agent—I understand that John M Forbes of New York is applying for a consular appointment at Lisbon, or Cadiz,—That John H Rogers of Newton is desirous of the Consulate for Alicant, and William Lee,—of the collector’s office in Salem—At their request, I mention their names, am acquainted with them, particularly with Forbes & Lee, and should it, in the course of appointments, become important to know, the characters of those Gentlemen, I have no hisitancy in saying, they are persons of weight in society, of ability & respectability.2 Forbes particularly a man of learning & strength of mind—

Accept Sir assurance of my highest esteem & respect

Levi Lincoln

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq President of the United States Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Oct. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Lee to be collector Salem John H. Rogers of Newton. to be Consul Alicant.” Enclosures: (1) Two of Lincoln’s “Farmer” essays from Massachusetts newspapers; see Lincoln to TJ, 16 Sep. (2) Samuel Brown to Lincoln, 16 Oct. 1801, regarding the cost of repairs and supplies for the Berceau and reporting the ship’s departure (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ: “Lincoln Levi. Brown’s statement to him of the cost of the repairs of the Berceau”).

Samuel Stanhope Smith, an ordained Presbyterian minister, was president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). In 1779, when Smith was rector of Hampden-Sydney Academy, he and TJ had corresponded about the education bill that TJ drafted for the revisal of Virginia laws (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 2:246–9, 252–5).

Addition to My Family: Lincoln married Martha Waldo in 1781. She bore ten children in the course of the marriage. The youngest, a son named William, was born 26 Sep. 1801 (Waldo Lincoln, History of the Lincoln Family: An Account of the Descendants of Samuel Lincoln of Hingham, Massachusetts, 1637–1920 [Worcester, Mass., 1923], 162–4).

1MS: “against against.”

2MS: “respectabity.”

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