Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Beckley, 3 June 1802

From John Beckley

Washington, 3d: June 1802.

Dear Sir,

I have been requested to add what I know of the person named in the enclosed. He was, during my residence in Richmond, an Alderman of that City for a number of years, and always maintained the Character of an active, useful, intelligent Magistrate, with strict integrity in private life.

If the appointment of Commissrs. to act in philadelphia is not concluded, I would beg leave to mention the name of Hugh Ferguson Esqre. one of the new City representatives in the State Legislature, a Merchant by profession and a Man of great worth, whom for Years I have well known. I also embrace this occasion to inform you that in respect to the name of a Mr: William Duncan, who has probably been mentioned to you, I am advised that an objection to him exists of a nature to forbid any appointment whatever, which, if Requisite, will be fully made to you, by the person who has communicated the objection to me.

With great esteem, I am, dear Sir, Your obedt: Servt:

John Beckley.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 7 June and “Hugh Ferguson to be Comr. bkrptcy Phila” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not identified.

For an earlier application by HUGH FERGUSON that was delivered to the president by Beckley, see Ferguson to TJ, 16 May 1801. TJ entered Ferguson’s name on his list of candidates for bankruptcy commissioners, but he was not selected (Appendix II, Lists 1 and 2).

WILLIAM DUNCAN, clerk of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1800, served as secretary of the 1801 meeting of Democratic Republicans in Philadelphia, at which Ferguson was chosen a candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly. An auctioneer, Duncan probably experienced financial difficulties in 1802. In May, a notice appeared that the partnership with his brother was being dissolved. Duncan requested that all accounts with the firm be settled, but assured the public that he was continuing in business at 7 South Front Street. By December 1802, Andrew Pettit, another auctioneer, occupied Duncan’s store (Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 10 Nov. 1800, 12 Oct. 1801, 21 May 1802; Gazette of the United States, 4 Dec. 1802).

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