Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Story, 11 January 1802

From Isaac Story

Marblehead Jany. 11. 1802.

Most respected Sire,

I view it as an instance of Condescension, that you vouchsafed to answer my letter with your own hand; & the contents were such, as gave pleasure to my heart.

I have a letter by me, which I received from President Washington. They lay side by side as precious deposits.—

I little thought that I should have occasion to address you so soon again.—

Colo. Johonnot of Hampden requested me to write to Mr. Gerry, that he might use his influence with the President, for obtaining the office of Collector & Searcher for the District of Penobscot. In compliance with his request, I wrote to Mr. Gerry on the Subject; & his answer I now enclose.—

All I shall attempt to say of Colo. Johonnot is that he is a capable man; but as Genl. Dearborn could be no Stranger to him, I shall refer you to him for his moral character & qualifications.

And if Genl. Dearborn feels justified in recommending him, it is well, & I am content. But if he will not recommend him, & the office should still continue vacant, I should esteem it a perticular favor, if it might be confered on me.

I am about leaving the ministry; for I have had the care of 3000 Souls & upwards, & the labors have pressed too hard upon me for some time, & I have desired my people to seek after a new Minister, which they mean to do immediatly, so that I can be disengaged at any time.—

And should the appointment devolve upon me, I hope, the public will find a faithful servant. I do not ask for this office, for the sake of the Emoluments of it, for my circumstances are independant: but I ask for it, that I may not be idle, & that I might have an employment, in which I may render service to the Community.

Were it necessary, I might procure a request, signed by many respectable Characters.—

I pray God to take you into his holy keeping & accept the homage of my most profound respects

Isaac Story

N.B. I have wrote to Mr. Madison & Genl. Dearborn on the Subject

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 21 Jan. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “to be collector of Penobscot.” Enclosure not found.

Answer My Letter: TJ to Story, 5 Dec. 1801.

In 1795, Story sent George Washington a brief, undated letter, which enclosed copies of sermons he composed for a national day of thanksgiving proclaimed by the president (DLC: Washington Papers; Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 29571). Washington replied on 14 Apr. with a brief letter of thanks (Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, D.C., 1931–44, 39 vols. description ends , 34:176).

Gabriel Johonnot, of Hampden, Maine, was a former Boston merchant and a lieutenant colonel during the Revolutionary War. He was also Story’s brother-in-law. Johonnot wrote Story on 22 Nov. 1801, requesting that he ask Elbridge Gerry to use his influence with the president to secure an appointment for Johonnot, preferably the Penobscot collectorship. Johonnot described the behavior of the current collector, John Lee, as “Uniformly inimical to this country, to the Republican interest peculiarly so” (DLC: Madison Papers; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 2:386; Washington, Papers, Rev. War Ser., 1:330). Johonnot did not receive the Penobscot appointment, which had already been granted to Josiah Hook (Hook to TJ, 24 Dec. 1801).

Story’s letter to James Madison, also dated 11 Jan. 1802, was largely identical to his letter to TJ printed above, but closed with a reminder that both Story and Madison had attended Princeton together and a wish that the secretary of state might “render service to an old College-friend.” It also enclosed Johonnot’s letter to Story of 22 Nov. 1801 (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 2:385–6).

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