Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Matthew Lawler, 8 December 1801

From Matthew Lawler

Philada. Decem. 8th. 1801.


Publick Opinion has been a long time that a Change would take place in the Custom House of this District. I have held back any Application for the Collectorship expecting there would be numerous persons that would take more pains than I should and some of which perhaps personally acquainted, with the heads of the departments, but being more strongley urged by some of my Frinds, and Acquaintances lately, has induced me to make this Application if it meets Your Approbation it will be confiring a favour which will be verry exceptable and if given to any other person I shall consider it as done being more conducive to the Publick Good and more strongly to cement the Republican interest in this District

I am sir Your Moast Obt:

Matw. Lawler

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson, President of the U.N. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Dec. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “for office in the Customs.”

Matthew Lawler (b. ca. 1757) served as captain of several privateers sent out by Philadelphia merchants during the Revolution. In 1785 he was master of the ship Fame and engaged in the tobacco trade with France and in October 1789 returned from a prosperous seven-month voyage to India. Lawler was among the first elected to serve as director of the Bank of Pennsylvania in 1793 and was later chosen a director of the Philadelphia Bank. He was also active in local and state politics, having been elected mayor of Philadelphia by the Select and Common Councils in October 1801 and reelected the following three years. He served as a presidential elector in 1804. In the fissure that developed among Philadelphia Republicans, Lawler allied himself with William Duane and Congressman Michael Leib against moderate Republicans Thomas McKean and Alexander J. Dallas. After McKean won the fiercely contested gubernatorial election of 1805, he instituted suits for libel against Lawler, Leib, Thomas Leiper, and Duane. Still allied with Leiper and Duane in 1819, Lawler chaired a meeting to encourage protection of domestic manufactures through protective tariffs (Pa. Arch., 9th ser., 3:1774, 2066–7; PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877– description ends , 17 [1893], 462–75; 79 [1955], 28–9, 35–40, 62n; Pennsylvania Packet, 17 Oct. 1785; Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, 16 Oct. 1789; Federal Gazette, and Philadelphia Evening Post, 15 June 1793; Philadelphia Gazette, 28 Sep. 1796; Gazette of the United States, 27 Oct. 1801; Philadelphia Aurora, 8 Sep. 1804, 6 Nov. 1805; Carlisle Republican, 7 Sep. 1819; Vol. 9:390–3).

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