Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, [ca. 20 January 1802]

From James Madison

[ca. 20 Jan. 1802]

Wm. Foster jr. was named by Mr. Adams to the Senate who concurred; but no commission ever issued. He was of the State of Massachussets.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17); undated; endorsed by TJ: “Foster Wm junr. to be Commercl. Agent Morlaix.”

President John Adams on 18 Feb. 1801 nominated William Foster, Jr., to be commercial agent at Morlaix and on 24 Feb. the Senate concurred. Foster’s commission, however, according to an undated memorandum from the State Department, was among those “remaining in the Office of the department of State” when TJ became president; it was never delivered, and the position remained vacant (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 , 1:382, 385; Vol. 33:173n). On 20 Jan. 1802, TJ issued a new commission, noting the earlier confirmation of the appointment and expressing his “special Trust and Confidence in the Abilities and Integrity of the said William Foster Jr.” TJ entered the nomination on two of his personal lists of removals and appointments under the date 21 Jan. 1802, where he commented that Foster had been “nominated by mr Adams & approved by Senate.” A notation by a clerk in the State Department letterbook stated, at the foot of the text, that TJ’s commission “never was forwarded.” Evidently before that commission could be transmitted to Boston, Madison forwarded TJ a letter from William Foster, Sr., dated 14 Jan. 1802, informing the secretary of state that Adams’s nomination of the young Foster was “made late & incompleat.” The father’s letter also complained that the appointment was “paltry” and of “very little consideration,” and he sought Madison’s help in obtaining from TJ a better post, in the north or south of France or in Spain, “say Cadiz or Malaga” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Jan.; also endorsed by TJ: “Foster Wm junr. to be a consul”; commission in Lb in DNA: RG 59, PTCC; Vol. 33:671, 678). In February 1802, William Eustis informed Madison that he had received a recommendation for Foster for a consulate in France, observing that he was “a young man of talents, integrity and amiable manners, a Republican in principle and qualified for such an office.” In 1803, Foster was recommended for the consulate at Nantes (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 2:457; 4:275).

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