Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Beckley, 27 October 1801

From John Beckley

Philadelphia 27th: October 1801.

Dear Sir,

A short but severe fit of the gout has delayed my acknowledgment of your favor of the 22d.—I sincerely regret the necessity that has occasioned Mr: Hansons reference to me, and in the just estimate of his Character and Merits, shall feel a twofold gratification in the possibility that I may afford him a temporary relief from political persecution and intolerance—If, in the event of my contemplated Success, the station he asks will be acceptable, he cannot receive it with half the pleasure I shall feel in that acceptance. No circumstance of pre-engagement interferes with the performance of this promise, and I only lament that a previous contingent arrangement, precludes my offering him, the more eligible station of principal Clerk.

I sought out and delivered your letter to Messrs. Fry and Chapman—they are Germans, and not understanding English, desired me to read it to one of their brethren to translate, which, being done, they requested that I would carry to you their high gratification and thankfulness, for so particular a Mark of your favor and attention.

In about ten days Mrs. Beckley and myself hope to be in Washington, when I shall have the pleasure to communicate to you, a singular overture to me, by letter, from a fœderal Senator, to place me in the station of Secretary of the Senate.   Mr: Duane desires me to express the deep sense he entertains of your favor, friendship and support—permit me to add a corresponding sentiment for myself, united with the most sincere esteem and attachment

John Beckley

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 29 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

Your Letter: TJ to Michael Fry and Nathan Coleman, 22 Oct.

The Federalist senator who supported Beckley as a candidate for secretary of the senate in place of Samuel A. Otis has not been identified. On 12 Sep., however, Otis wrote Federalist Senator Jonathan Dayton that he had a “hint from pretty good authority” that plans were being made to turn him out of office and “to introduce Mr. Beckley.” Otis argued: “The Senate being a permanent body my office hath been considered permanent. Fairly in possession, I mean not to relinquish, as however small the provision, it is a chief dependence for the Support of my family; and it will be an odd measure to say the least of it, to elect a Secretary when one already holds the office, unless on a charge of malversation, which I defy” (Gerard W. Gawalt, Justifying Jefferson: The Political Writings of John James Beckley [Washington, D.C., 1995], 245n).

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