Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Hore Browse Trist, 17 January 1802

To Hore Browse Trist

Washington Jan. 17. 1802.

Dear Sir

I learn with sincere concern that you have made up your mind to leave us, and go to the Missisipi territory, and that you contemplate this as early as the ensuing spring. altho absent from the neighborhood myself for a time, yet I view all it’s losses as my own losses, and am moreover interested in the feelings of our common friends. I am led to notice this subject at present by an incident recently happened in the Missisipi territory, which is the death of mr Steele the Secretary of the territory. the salaries there are small, the judges having only 800. D. a piece. the Secretary’s salary is but 750. D. it is not on that ground therefore that I would propose it to you, but on account of it’s respectability, being the second office in the territory, and the first when the governor is absent; his duties devolving then on the Secretary. imagining that in this point of view it might render your first establishment there more agreeable, I take the liberty of proposing it to you. should you deem it acceptable, it would be of some importance that you should repair thither as early as you can. but it is not necessary that you should make a winter journey of it. I have not waited your [expected] arrival here, to make this proposition, because I thought it might possibly influence your plan as to that, and induce the saving, to mrs Trist at least, the addition of 250. miles to a journey, otherwise long enough. be so good as to present my most friendly salutations to the ladies of the family, and to accept yourself my respects & best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); blurred; at foot of text: “Mr. Trist”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Death of Mr Steele: rumors of the death of John Steele, secretary of the Mississippi Territory since 1798, were false (see TJ to Trist, 9 Feb. 1802). Steele wrote to Kentucky senator John Brown from Natchez on 23 Jan. 1802 that despite ill health and duties preventing him from writing, “the office I have held here, would still be a Convenient thing to me; and altho’ I have derived My Political Creed in a great Measure, from the Sentiments and opinions of Mr Jefferson and Mr Madison I have not flattered myself with the hope of being reappointed to the office of Secretary.” Steele’s official term as secretary expired on 6 May 1802, but he continued these duties as keeper of public records for 13 months thereafter until his replacement arrived. In October 1803, Steele submitted a petition to Congress for payment of his services as acting governor and as unofficial interim secretary (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Steele John to J. Brown to be continued Secretary of Missi territory”; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 5:241–61; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 6:56–7).

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