Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Mercer, 21 September 1802

From John Mercer

New-York. Septr. 21st. 1802.

Dear Sir

Mr. Richard S. Hackley, an estimable Man and respectable Merchant of this City, has expressed his wish to receive the appointment of Consul at Nantes, should the vacancy continued by the Nonacceptance of Mr. Gantt, be not supplied at this Time: and should the Information communicated respecting him, render him in your Estimation worthy of the office—With this view, he has requested me to trespass so far upon your valuable Time, as to introduce his Name to your attention—This I do with much pleasure, as there are few Individuals with whom I am more intimately acquainted, and none of whose excellent moral and political Character I can speak with more Certainty, than of Mr. Hackleys. This Gentleman is a Native of Fredericksburg in Virginia—was bred from his earliest youth to the Business of a Merchant and has prosecuted it in this City for the last three years, during which Time, his Conduct as far as I can learn, has been without Reproach—His Age is thirty two years.

I have the honour to be, with every Sentiment of Respect, your Obedient Servant

John Mercer

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 26 Sep. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Hackley Richd S. to be Consul at Nantes.”

John Mercer (1772–1817) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, was a son of General Hugh Mercer, who died in the American Revolution in 1777. Educated as an attorney, Mercer represented Spotsylvania County in the House of Delegates from 1797 to 1803, and from 1816 to 1817. In 1803, he traveled to France to serve as James Monroe’s unofficial private secretary during the Louisiana negotiations, and was subsequently named a commissioner to settle American debt claims on France. Returning to the United States in late 1805, Mercer declined TJ’s offer in 1806 of a judicial appointment in the Orleans Territory, citing his long retirement from the law and his poor health. His infrequent correspondence with the president generally consisted of letters recommending his Fredericksburg acquaintances for office (John T. Goolrick, The Life of General Hugh Mercer [New York, 1906], 106; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619-January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 209, 213, 217, 221, 225, 229, 287; 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 , 4:522–3, 5:5–6, 69–70; Daily National Intelligencer, 5 Nov. 1817; Vol. 36:615; Mercer to TJ, 13 Dec. 1805, 20 June 1806; TJ to Mercer, 10 June 1806).

RICHARD S. HACKLEY received an appointment as consul at Sanlúcar de Barrameda in 1806 (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 , 2:45).

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