Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 18 August 1802

From James Madison

Orange Aug. 18. 1802

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 16th. came duly to hand with the papers to which it referred. I now forward others recd. by the last mail.

I have signified to Mr. Sumpter that his resignation was acquiesced in, and have used a language calculated to satisfy him that he retains the good opinion of the Executive. What is to be said to Mr. Livingston on his requests that he may appt. a private Secretary, and fill provisionally consular vacancies? Considering the disposition of a Secretary of Legation, acting as private Secy. to view himself on the more important side, and of the Minister to view & use him on the other, it is to be apprehended, that there may be difficulty in finding a successor to Mr. Sumter who will not be likely to be infected with the same dissatisfaction. I am not aware that the other proposition of Mr. L. is founded in any reason claiming equal attention.

Yours with respectful attachment

James Madison

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department at Orange on 19 Aug. and “Sumpter” and so recorded in SJL with notation “Sumpter’s resignn.” Enclosures not identified.

Madison’s letter to Thomas Sumter, Jr., on the subject of Sumter’s RESIGNATION from his position as Robert R. Livingston’s secretary has not been found (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:498n).

CONSULAR VACANCIES: in a letter to Madison of 20 May, Livingston had written that he thought it would be “convenient & proper” to make Fulwar Skipwith, the U.S. commercial agent at Paris, the general commercial agent for France. “The power of the Minister,” Livingston declared, “ought to extend to filling up vacancys & appointing to places where the commercial agents may be found necessary till the presidents pleasure is known” (same, 233).

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