Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Caesar A. Rodney, 24 April 1802

To Caesar A. Rodney

Washington Apr. 24. 1802.

Dear Sir

I have yet to acknolege your favor of Mar. 15. recd. the 25th. I had hoped that the proceedings of this session of Congress would have rallied the great body of our citizens at once to one opinion. but the inveteracy of their quondam leaders have been able by intermingling the grossest lies and misrepresentations to check the effect in some small degree until they shall be exposed. the great sources and authors of these are in Congress. besides the slanders in their speeches, such letters have been written to their constituents as I shall forbear to qualify by the proper term. I am glad to observe that you have been properly struck with these things: and that you confide in the progress of republicanism notwithstanding them. the vote for your governor shews the majority of your state was then republican, and I cannot but believe it will increase. I am told you are the person who can unite the greatest portion of the republican votes, and the only one perhaps who can procure the dismission of your present representative to that obscurity of situation where his temper & principles may be disarmed of all effect. you are then, my dear Sir, bound to do this good office to the rest of America. you owe to your state to make her useful to her friends, instead of being an embarrasment and a burthen. her long speeches & wicked workings at this session have added at least 30. days to it’s length, cost us 30,000. D. and filled the union with falsehoods & misrepresentations. relieve us then, my dear Sir, from this hostile procedure, by undertaking that office which your fellow citizens will gladly confide to your truth, candour & republicanism. a man standing under such circumstances, owes himself to his country, because they can find no other in whom they can all agree to have confidence. be so good as to answer me on this point and to be assured of my affectionate esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DeHi); addressed: “Caesar A. Rodney esquire Wilmington D.”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by Rodney: “President offers pressing reason to stand a Candidate.” PrC (DLC).

YOUR GOVERNOR: David Hall (see Rodney to TJ, 27 Dec. 1801).

YOUR PRESENT REPRESENTATIVE: James A. Bayard, leader of the Federalist minority in the House of Representatives. Bayard led the debate against the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801 that dominated the House during the last two weeks in February and continued until its passage on 3 Mch. (see TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, 21 Feb. 1802). In his address against repeal, Bayard defended the philosophy and policies of the Federalists over the preceding 12 years and attacked the president. Cataloguing several of TJ’s appointments, including Charles Pinckney, William C. C. Claiborne, James Linn, and Edward Livingston, Bayard charged “the present Executive, leaving scarcely an exception, has appointed to office, or has, by accident, indirectly gratified every man who had any distinguished means in the competition for the Presidential office, of deciding the election in his favor” (Morton Borden, The Federalism of James A. Bayard [New York, 1955], 96–105, 121–2; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 11:640–1). For other attempts by the Delaware congressman to obstruct administration measures, see Vol. 36:219–20, 417n, 602n, 618–19.

Rodney accepted TJ’s challenge TO DO THIS GOOD OFFICE and ran against Bayard in the congressional election of 1802 (see Vol. 32:217–18). Although Rodney was victorious, two years later Bayard accepted an appointment to the U.S. Senate. He took his seat on 15 Jan. 1805 and remained in the Senate until March 1813 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:434; Borden, Federalism of Bayard, 143).

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