Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Langdon, 26 January 1803

From John Langdon

Portsmouth Jany 26th. 1803

Dear Sr.

I am honor’d with your favor of the 12th. Inst with one hundred dollars inclosed for the distressed sufferers by the late fire in this Town, this sum has been enter’d on our books from a friend, your name has been omitted, agreably to your directions; I pray you Sr. to Accept of my thanks in behalf of the sufferers for this generous donation, which shall be faithfully appropriated, to the benevolent purpose, intended. The Calamity has been great indeed, but it would have been much more felt, had the fire happen’d in any other part of the Town, many of the sufferers are still wealthy. I have lost one house, my Son in law, another, my Brother a warehouse, which were rented, we consider ourselves small sufferers, the lots remain we must double our deligence and build new houses. We are experiencing the great sympathy of our fellow Citizens, in our misfortune, not only in our own state, but thro’ the United States, the very generous donations made by the Citys of Philada. & New York with other Cities and Towns also by individuals, cannot fail to call forth our greatful Acknowledgements. Permit me Sr. to congratulate you on the flattering prospect of our Public affairs, the proceedings of our Government, cannot fail to give compleat satisfaction to every Republican and at the same time to silence, in some measure, the calumnies of the Federalists, who “sicken” at the sight of our prosperity, and are perpetually endeavouring to bring us into confusion, or into war with any Nation or Nations whatever they care not who or which, but thank God their attempts are vain. Peace will be our Glory, war would be our distruction; in my opinion even to meet Great Britain in our Commercial relations, on the ground of reciprocity for the present untill Negociation could take place, would be of Advantage. But these important affairs, I submit to superiour Judgemt. not doubting you’ll be good enough to pardon me for the liberty I have taken,

I have the honor to be Dear Sr. with the highest possable respect and consideration Your Obligd Hbl. Servt

John Langdon

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States. City of Washington”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Feb. and so recorded in SJL.

your favor of the 12th.: that is, TJ’s letter of 11 Jan.

Langdon’s son in law was Thomas Elwyn and his brother, Woodbury Langdon.

very generous donations in response to the Portsmouth fire poured in from civic groups and churches around the country. In Philadelphia, a bookseller opened a subscription campaign. In New York, merchants and businesses, including a coffeehouse, raised funds. In addition to these regional efforts, TJ signed into law on 19 Feb. 1803, “An Act for the relief of the sufferers by fire, in the town of Portsmouth,” allowing residents additional time to discharge their custom house bonds (Gazette of the United States, 7 Jan. 1803; New York Commercial Advertiser, 7 Jan. 1803; 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 , 2:201).

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