Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Bird, 3 August 1802

From John Bird

New Castle 4th. Augt. 1802


I had the Honor to write you on the 10th. ultimo—Stateing my application for the Office of Collector of the Customs for the District of Delaware, in case a vacancy should happen, by the removal, or resignation of the present officer—: To which be pleased to refer.

In that Letter I took the Liberty to recommend your Excellency to Governor Hall, and C: A: Rodney Esquire, for information, with respect to who, and what I am.  But, as I am apprehensive that those Gentlemen left Washington, before my Letter arrived, I now Sir, take the Liberty to refer you to the Inclosed Document from Archd: Alexander, Esquire, and to Geo. Read, Esqr.—who will also write you on the same Subject in a few days—which I hope may prove satisfactory.

If however, I should not succeed in obtaining this appointment; and some other Person should be more fortunate than myself—Notwithstanding something like chagrin may be the consequence, yet I shall be content, and not speak evil of presidential favours.

There is yet another office, which I am informed will be vacant ere long—to wit “Commissioner of Loans”—If I should fail in the first—I shall have no objection, if thought Competint, to supply the Vacancy which will happen in the latter.

I have the Honor, to be with much consideration and respect, Your Obt. and Very Hbl Servant

Jno; Bird

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson, Esquire, Prest. of the U:S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 Aug. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “to be Collector at Wilmington.” Enclosure: Archibald Alexander to TJ, 4 Aug. 1802 (recorded in SJL as received 16 Aug. and “Newcastle” but not found).

John Bird (d. 1810) was a New Castle ship chandler who served as a Delaware state senator in 1800 and 1802. He was expelled in January 1801 for involvement in “certain navy contracts,” which disqualified him from office holding according to a stipulation in the state constitution. He reclaimed his seat from Robert Maxwell the following year and won reelection without objection. In 1804, he became a member of the Delaware house of representatives and continued in office until his sudden death following the failure of his firm, Riddle and Bird (John A. Munroe, “A Parson in Politics: The Expulsion of John C. Brush from the Delaware General Assembly in 1801,” Delaware History, 23 [1989], 300–1; Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols. [Wilmington, Del., 1908], 1:264, 272, 273; Delaware Federal Writers’ Project, New Castle on the Delaware, 3d ed. [Wilmington, Del., 1950], 85, 89).

WRITE YOU: Bird to TJ, 10 July, recorded in SJL as received on the 14th with the notation “Newcastle. To be collector vice McLane,” has not been found.

John Stockton, who was appointed in 1795, served as COMMISSIONER OF LOANS for Delaware for more than 20 years (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 , 1:189; Report of the Committee of Claims on the Petition of John Stockton, 17 Feb. 1818 [Washington, D.C., 1818; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 46203]).

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