Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Francis Mitchell, 21 November 1802

To Francis Mitchell

Washington Nov. 21. 1802.


It is but lately that the return of the Secretary of the Navy has enabled me to answer your application for the place of Midshipman. he has examined and finds there is not a single vacancy at present: but they happen pretty frequently, and your name & that of another are set down for the two first vacancies, of which, when they happen you shall be apprised. Accept my salutations and best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Francis Mitchell”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Recorded in SJL at 20 Nov.

Francis Mitchell received a warrant as a midshipman in March 1803 and served in the Mediterranean in 1804 and 1805. Commissioned a lieutenant in 1809, he saw action commanding a sloop in the naval flotilla at Delaware Bay during the War of 1812, drawing praise as a “gallant officer.” He later served less successfully at the Battle of Lake Champlain, where his commanding officer deprecated his bravery and characterized him as “the most profane man in the service.” After the war Mitchell took furlough duty but remained on naval registers into the 1820s (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939-44, 6 vols., and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801-1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , Register, 37; William S. Dudley and Michael J. Crawford, eds., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, 3 vols. [Washington, D.C., 1985–2002], 2:182, 200; Christopher McKee, A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U.S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794–1815 [Annapolis, Md., 1991], 291; Register of the Commission and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United States [Washington, D.C., 1820], 7).

Index Entries