Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Hoge and Joseph Hiester, 4 February 1803

From William Hoge and Joseph Hiester

Thursday Feby. 4—1803


Having understood from conversation with Dr. Leib that it is his intention to withdraw from Congress by declining a reelection, we take the liberty of suggesting the propriety of assigning to him a place under the government, should any vacancies take place in Pennsylvania—To You, Sir, Who are well acquainted with the pretensions, qualifications and services of Dr Leib—it will be considered as a work of supererogation to enter into a detail of them; We will only remark, that in our opinion such an appointment would be acceptable to the people, and would conduce to the interest of the republican cause—As we know no one in our State better entitled to the attention of the administration—Feeling a deep interest in, and anxious to promote, the democratic cause in our State by the appointment of fit and approved men to office, we have been thus free in suggesting our spontaneous sentiments—We take the liberty of requesting, that this letter may be considered confidential, that no mortification may arise to our friend from having this unsolicited interposition attributed to him, in the event of our recommendation failing in its object

We are with sentiments of sincere consideration and respect—Your fellow Citizens

W. Hoge

Jos: Hiester

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); in Hoge’s hand, signed by Hoge and Hiester; at foot of text: “The President of U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Feb. and “Leib Michael to office” and so recorded in SJL.

Born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, William Hoge (1762–1814) moved to the western part of the state in 1782, where he founded the town of Washington with his older brother, John. In 1794, he was an officer of the Democratic Society of Pennsylvania in Washington County. He served in the state house of representatives in 1796 and 1797 and was elected to fill the congressional seat vacated by Gallatin in 1801. He served as a Pennsylvania congressman until October 1804 and again from 1807 to 1809 (Harry Marlin Tinkcom, The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790–1801: A Study in National Stimulus and Local Response [Harrisburg, 1950], 257; Philip S. Foner, ed., The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790–1800 [Westport, Conn., 1976], 129–30; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

Born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Joseph Hiester (1752–1832) grew up on a farm, became a clerk at a store in Reading, and in 1771, having married Elizabeth Whitman, the proprietor’s daughter, became a partner in the business. He became sole owner in 1780. Hiester was an enthusiastic supporter of the American Revolution, serving as a delegate to the provincial congress at Philadelphia in 1776. As captain of the Berks County militia, he fought in the battle of Long Island in August 1776 and was captured by the British. After his release in a prisoner exchange, he recovered his health and as a lieutenant colonel in 1777 took part in the battle of Germantown. He served five terms in the Pennsylvania assembly between 1780 and 1790 where he represented the predominantly German population. In 1787, Hiester was among the 23 Antifederalists who voted against ratification of the Constitution. He was an influential participant at the convention that drew up the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790. During the 1790s, Hiester served several terms in the state senate, before being elected to fill a vacated seat in Congress. He served as the Republican representative from Berks County from 1797 to 1805 and again from 1815 to December 1820, when he resigned, having been elected governor. As Pennsylvania’s chief executive, Hiester advocated state-supported education and internal improvements. Noted for making appointments according to merit rather than along party lines, Hiester also believed in rotation of office and refused to stand for reelection (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928-36, 20 vols. description ends ; Higginbotham, Pennsylvania Politics description begins Sanford W. Higginbotham, The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics 1800-1816, Harrisburg, 1952 description ends , 87–8; Vol. 33:73n).

On 23 July 1801, in a letter now missing, Hiester and Peter Muhlenberg, writing from Philadelphia, recommended Michael leib for the office of inspector or surveyor (Vol. 34:704). For Hiester’s advice on appointments and support for other Pennsylvania Republicans, see Vol. 33:29n, 247n; Vol. 34:355n, 470–1n, 523–5.

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