Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Stone, 28 December 1801

From David Stone

Senate Chamber 28th December 1801

Enclosed are two applications for office which I take the Liberty to lay before you, and to add of Mr. David Ker one of the applicants that he is originally from Ireland, has been in the United States many years, was after his arrival for a considerable time employed as a Minister of the Gospel and Teacher of a Grammar School—on the first establishment of the University of North Carolina he was engaged by the Trustees to superintend that Institution and to Teach the Latin and Greek Languages. He has since turned his attention to the Law and in the year 1796, I believe, obtained a License and entered upon the practise in the neighborhood of Fayette Ville—since which time I have known little more of him than is contained in the enclosed Letter to me. Upon his examination for admittance to the Bar he was thought to acquit himself very well; He has at all times since my acquaintance with him shewn himself firmly republican, has a wife with a large family of Children and is poor.

Of the other Applicant Mr. Davis that he has been in the practise of the Law since the year 1790 or ‘91 has some Talents and I believe Honesty but I fear wants application, whether Republican or not I know not but suppose from his connections he has not been uniformly republican.

If a preference is not already determined on between Mr. Bloodworth and Mr. Potts and it should be in my power to make that determination more satisfactory it will give me pleasure to have stated That tho Mr. Potts stands equally fair with Mr. Bloodworth for Honesty and Firmness as a republican, and probably before him as a Clerk—several circumstances in the History of Mr. Potts have recurred to my recollection that convince me he is in point of understanding far inferior to Mr Bloodworth. The Honorable Testimony which the State of North Carolina has on several occasions borne in favor of the latter Gentleman & the respectable standing he at present maintains there may also weigh something. Mr. Gallatin is personally acquainted with Mr. Bloodworth and doubtless judges from his own knowlege; but a recollection of the warmth and zeal with which his Election into the Senate of the United States was opposed by the present Comptroller prepares me to expect an opposition from the Treasury.

I have the Honor to be with the most profound Respect Your Humble Servant

David Stone

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); endorsed by TJ as received 28 Dec. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Ker D. Bloodworth. Potts. Davis”; also endorsed by TJ: “David Ker to be judge of Missi territory vice Tilton. Bloodworth, Potts, Davis. Collector for Wilmington.” Enclosures: (1) David Ker to TJ, 3 Oct. 1801. (2) David Ker to Stone, Natchez, 3 Oct. 1801, in which Ker offers to distribute “republican information” in Mississippi in order to counteract the continuing influence of the “partizans of the late administration” and to temper the zealous Republicans in the territory, who lack “information & moderation”; Ker also seeks an appointment as judge or secretary of the territory, despite concerns that immigrants in America “have some impediments in the way to public appointments,” and asks that Stone convey his letter of application to the president (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Ker David to be judge of Missisipi vice Tilton abandoned”). (3) George Davis to Stone, Wilmington, undated, apologizing for addressing Stone “after an omission so long and so inexcusable” and expressing his desire to obtain the Wilmington collectorship (RC in NHi: Gallatin Papers; endorsed by TJ: “Davis George to mr Stone to be Collector of Wilmington”). Enclosed in TJ to Gallatin, 29 Dec.

David Stone (1770–1818) graduated first in his class at Princeton before returning to North Carolina to study law under William R. Davie. During the 1790s, he served in the state legislature and on the state supreme court before being elected to Congress in 1799. Nominally elected as a Federalist, Stone demonstrated his political independence by generally supporting the Republicans, including voting for TJ on all 36 House ballots during the election crisis of February 1801. The Republican-dominated legislature of North Carolina elected Stone to replace Timothy Bloodworth in the U.S. Senate in 1801, where he served until 1807. After two terms as governor of North Carolina, Stone returned to the Senate in 1813, but he resigned the following year due to his lack of support for the War of 1812 and retired to his plantation in Wake County (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Ruth L. Woodward and Wesley Frank Craven, Princetonians, 1784–1790: A Biographical Dictionary [Princeton, 1991], 288–92; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

For the candidacy of Timothy Bloodworth for the Wilmington collectorship, see Bloodworth to TJ, 6 Oct. 1801, and Gallatin to TJ, [19 Oct. 1801].

Mr. Potts: Joshua Potts, a merchant and former member of the state legislature from Wilmington. TJ appointed him a bankruptcy commissioner for North Carolina in December 1802 (John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979: A Narrative and Statistical History [Raleigh, 1981], 220; commission for Joshua Potts, 20 Dec. 1802, in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC). On 12 Dec., Nathaniel Macon sent Gallatin two recommendations in favor of Potts from “men of respectability” in the state. Macon determined, as the result of his inquiries, that Potts was “the most suitable person to appoint” to the collectorship. Letters from Raleigh and Fayetteville described Potts as an “upright, Honest, and Benevolent Man,” about 50 years old, and a “correct accountant,” who in every respect was properly qualified to fill the vacancy, having had experience in the collector’s office under former collector James Read. He was also “a true and faithfull Republican at the time when that Cause was almost deserted.” Gallatin sent Macon’s letter and the recommendations to the president (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “mr. Macon to mr Gallatin Potts to be collector of Wilmington”).

John Steele, The Present Comptroller, ran unsuccessfully against Bloodworth for election to the U.S. Senate in 1795 (William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 vols. [Chapel Hill, 1979–96], 5:433).

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