Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Gideon Granger, 23 August 1802

From Gideon Granger

Washington Augt. 23d. 1802.

Dr: Sir

Yours of the 15th. was duly received. I have no use for Mr: Fenton’s Letter. On Thursday next, If my health permits, I shall leave this for Connecticut. For the last Ten days I have been confined with the Dysentery. It has reduced me somewhat. my return to the Seat of Government will be as early as shall appear safe. In the National Intelligencer of friday last. The dismissals in the post Office departmt. are stated and considered at some length. The approaching elections induced the publication. The only thing I fear is a new swarm of Applications from Our friends. The department in my opinion, (a few cases excepted) is in a hopeful Situation. The changes are as rapid as the prompt execution of the duties & the safety of the Departmt: will admit. I have appointed about 250 Postmasters Independt. of the Offices on the New post roads amounting to 129. so there will be 379. new Officers. The Inclosed is from a respectable Merchant and Mr: Tracey is a respected worthy Man.

I am Sir with great Esteem Yours

Gidn Granger

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received 26 Aug. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Frederick Tracy to be Consul at Cape Francois.” Enclosure: Simeon Thomas to Gideon Granger, Norwich, 18 Aug. 1802, recommending Captain Frederick Tracy as consul at Cap-Français, where he has established a firm and carries on business; a staunch Republican, he is “a Man of great information, strict integrity” and “more than common abilities,” who is “well versed in the French language”; the U.S. merchants at the port need a consular official “to make Protests give Certificates for goods landed there for drawbacks &c”; the person Tobias Lear left in charge is neither “friendly to the Present Administration” nor well qualified for the office (RC in same).

FRIDAY LAST: the article entitled “Calumny refuted” and signed “A Friend to Truth” appeared in the National Intelligencer on 20 Aug. The writer noted that of the 1,095 postmasters in office when Granger became postmaster general, it was difficult to find a single officer who was friendly to the government and included in their midst were some of the “most bitter opponents of the administration.” They were entrusted with the whole correspondence of the country. Granger had dismissed 45 postmasters since taking office, including one for insanity; one to restore a former postmaster to the office from which he had been unfairly dismissed; one for being under the age of 18; one for the “flagrant abuse of government and charging the executive with treason”; two for being Tories during the Revolutionary War and continuing their regard for British supremacy; two for negligence; three for “farming” out their offices; five for misconduct; five for maintaining offices in locations inconvenient for the public; eight for being printers and editors of newspapers; and finally sixteen to give participation in offices to some of the friends of the administration. The writer defended the actions of the postmaster general in six particular cases, including the dismissal of Augustine Davis, the newspaper publisher. Instead of the persecutor and tyrant depicted in the Federalist press, Granger was a vigilant officer who sought to improve the department “entrusted to his charge.” SOME LENGTH: the article extended over four full and two partial columns. Granger feared a NEW SWARM OF APPLICATIONS because the article concluded that the “friends of the administration” did not yet hold the proportion of offices justice demanded.

OFFICES ON THE NEW POST ROADS: the 3 May 1802 act “to alter and establish certain Post Roads; and for the more secure carriage of the Mail of the United States” discontinued a few postal routes but added many more in every state and the Northwest Territory. In New Jersey, for instance, postal service was established and postmasters appointed at 16 new sites (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:189–92; Stets, Postmasters description begins Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States 1782–1811, Lake Oswego, Ore., 1994 description ends , 166–71).

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