Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Ward, 10 November 1802

From Samuel Ward

Salem Massachusetts November 10th. 1802

The Petition of the Subscriber respectfully sheweth.

That being reduced by repeated misfortunes from a State of affluence to a very low ebb as to Wealth or means of support, He is desirous of obtaining some Office under Goverment that will enable him to support a large (and he thinks) promising Family, And as his Republican Friends anticipate a further removal of Public Officers, He is induced by their advice to request, that shou’d the person who is now Surveyor & Inspector for this port be removed, he may succeed him in those Offices—

Your Petitioner is fully sencible that whatever are his political principals, Integrity and abilities are necessary requisites to recommend any candidate for Office, and feels conscious that on enquiry Your Excellency will be satisfied in that regard—

Your Petitioner is now sixty two years old, and has a Wife, and ten children under his immediate care from seven years old and upwards, and whom with his utmost industry and economy he is unable to support in a decent manner. He has also two sons married who are unable to afford him any assistance—

He therefore submits the foregoing to your consideration, and is with due respect & regard

Your Excellency’s most obedient servant

Samuel Ward

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “To His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the United States of America”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Nov. and “to be Surveyor of Salem” and so recorded in SJL.

Samuel Ward (1739–1812), a Salem magistrate and military officer, had served in the Massachusetts legislature from 1778 to 1781 and in 1792 before suffering commercial setbacks. In 1797, he was involved in a land title dispute with other proprietors of the Salem Market. A former excise collector for Essex County, he ran unsuccessfully in a March 1801 election for county register of deeds against incumbent John Pickering. Ward had been a clerk in the register’s office for four years and believed “his great and repeated misfortunes ought to entitle him to the vote of every friend of humanity.” He informed Gideon Granger on 11 Nov. 1802 that he had previously “held many offices of Honour & some of profit,” had petitioned the president, and solicited an appointment as postmaster. In May 1803, when TJ removed the Federalist naval officer of Salem and Joseph Story declined to succeed him, TJ appointed Ward, who served for the district of Salem and Beverly until his death (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 ., 4:503–4; Charles S. Osgood and H. M. Batchelder, Historical Sketch of Salem, 1626–1879 [Salem, Mass., 1879], 208; Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 208; Joseph B. Felt, Annals of Salem, 2 vols. [Salem, 1845–49], 2:565; Salem Impartial Register, 5 Mch. 1801; Salem Gazette, 6 Feb. 1783, 27 Sep. 1785, 1 Dec. 1797, 6, 10 Mch. 1801; Newburyport Herald, 7 Aug. 1812; Ward to Granger, 16 May 1803 in DNA: RG 59, LAR; Vol. 33:673, Vol. 36:120n).

PERSON WHO IS NOW SURVEYOR & INSPECTOR: Bartholomew Putnam, the surveyor of Salem from 1789 to 1809, was a ship’s officer and ship’s master during the Revolution and a relation through marriage to Timothy Pickering (Osgood and Batchelder, Historical Sketch of Salem, 207; Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 33).

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