Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Allen McLane, 18 January 1802

From Allen McLane

Tunnicliffs Hotel Janary 18th 1802

Sir, when I did my self the honor of paying my respects to you on the 16th Inst, it was my intention to have expressed the high sense, I entertain of your Justice and friendship, in the full opportunity offorded me of defense by the mode of investigation you were pleased to direct into the charges exhibited against me as Collector of the Port of Wilmington—from this duty and pleasure I was precluded by the appearance of Company

Knowing as I do Sir, your Constitutional authority to have removed me at any time without inquiry—that your mere pleasure is the tenure by which I hold my office, I review with the highest degree of Gratitude this distinguished proof of your impartiallity and Kindness, for I am well aware that in no other way could I have had with the least chance, of meeting and disproving the unfounded charges of my envious and illiberal accusers—

I have the consolation of beleiving that the testimony taken on that ocasion, can leave not the shadow of a doubt on the mind of Your Excellency or of any other disinterestd. person, that I had ben guilty of any malconduct in office; but on the Contrary had faithfully and Vigelently executed the duties reposed in me

From your past indulgance and Justice I hope I may be permited to congratulate my self on the prospect of holding my office until some cause of removal may arise, and be assured Sir, by the prompt and faithful execution of my various duties, it will at all times be my first wish to merit your approbation—

The unwarrantable liberty, for some time, past practiced by certain newspaper Editors in perverting your intentions, and misrepresenting your conduct towards me for the perpose of answering party Views, permit, me to declare Sir, has bene totally without my privity or consent, and Gives me much pain

Please to accept Sir my sincere respects and best wishes and beleive me with sentiments of the highest consideration

Your most obt. Servt.

A McLane

RC (ViW); at head of text: “To the President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Jan. and so recorded in SJL.

Born in Philadelphia, Allen McLane (1746–1829) married Rebecca Wells of Kent County, Delaware, in 1769 and settled there. McLane served with distinction during the Revolutionary War, and, in 1789, Washington appointed him marshal of Delaware. In the election of 1796, McLane’s efforts reportedly led to the Federalist victory in that state. Shortly before he left office, Washington nominated McLane for the more influential and lucrative position of customs collector for the district of Delaware. In 1800, his compensation as collector at Wilmington exceeded $3,000. During the 1820s, McLane received recognition as one of the last surviving officers of the Revolution. He remained collector at Wilmington until his death (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends , 12:112–13; Washington, Papers, Rev. War Ser., 9:5n; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:29, 31, 228; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:261, 272; Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 265; John A. Munroe, Louis McLane: Federalist and Jacksonian [New Brunswick, N.J., 1973], 4–31).

For the mode of investigation and results of the inquiry into McLane’s conduct, see Gallatin to TJ, 23 May and 21 Dec. 1801. Certain newspaper editors: see Gallatin to TJ, 19 Nov.

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