Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Steele, 30 September 1802

From John Steele

Salisbury September 30th. 1802.


After leaving the seat of Government on the 6th. of last month with the permission which you did me the favor to grant to me, I arrived at this place on the 17th. where I found my family in their usual health; but I had been at home only a few days before nearly the whole of them (& Mrs. Steele of the number) were taken down with a fever which prevails very generally among the inhabitants of this part of the country. Scarcely a single family in our neighbourhood can be said to have escaped. Mine continues to be so much indisposed, that I am under the necessity of relinquishing (for the present) the intention of removing them to the seat of Government, and consequently of requesting that you will be pleased to accept my resignation of the office of Comptr. of the Treasury. With my resignation you will I hope also have the goodness to accept an assurance that I am duly sensible of your polite treatment, and that in future it cannot but be a source of pleasing and grateful reflection to me to have been invited by you to continue in the public service.

I have the honor to be, Sir With perfect consideration, Your most obedient & huml serv

Jno. Steele

A letter to the Secretary of the Treasy. of which the enclosed is a copy, suggests several modes by which the unfinished business of the Office may be compleated.

J. S.

RC (DNA: RG 59, RD); above postscript: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr. President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: John Steele to Albert Gallatin, 30 Sep. 1802, informing the Treasury secretary that he is submitting his resignation to the president; he outlines three ways by which to complete the unfinished business of the comptroller’s office; the first, preferred by Steele, calls for the transfer by post to North Carolina for his signature all “warrants, reports &c.,” which were prepared under the signature of David Rawn, the principal clerk, with the department keeping a descriptive list of the documents sent and retaining the vouchers for the accounts but allowing “the statements and remarks of the examining Clerks to accompany the reports”; the second calls for the president to issue a special warrant authorizing the principal clerk “to complete the unfinished business,” using, as a model, the form given by the president during Steele’s absence in 1797, for the settlement of Edmund Randolph’s account; the third calls for Steele to travel immediately to Washington to complete his unfinished business; Steele’s compensation will cease from the day the president accepts his resignation (Tr in DNA: RG 59, RD; in Steele’s hand; endorsed, in part, by Steele: “For the President of the United States”).

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