Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Thomas, 3 March 1803

From David Thomas

Washington March 3rd. 1803

Dear Sir

Permit me to request your Excellency to examine the enclosed letters—the one addressed to yourself was forwarded to me previous to my leaving home last fall for this City, which I intended to present immediately on my arrival here, had not I learnt that you had made it a principle not to appoint general Commissioners of Bancruptcey except in the commercial Towns, but when an instance of Bancruptcey should happen in a port remote from the residence of the General Commissioners, you would on the case being represented appoint special Commissioners for the particular case, and therefore I wrote Mr. McCrea giving him this information, to that letter I received the one inclosed from Mr. Cuyler who is Clerk of the County in which he lives and whose information may be relied on, as well as Mr. McCreas

It appears the person to whom it is wished that the benefit of the Bancrupt. law may be extended, is Alman Phillips and if this case is sufficiently represented, I wish your Excellency to appoint special Commissioners, and recommend as proper persons Peter Sailly of the County of Clinton and Stephen Cuyler and James McCrea of the County of Essex in the state of New York.—

Should this appointment be made the Commission may be for[. . .] to

Your Excellencys Most [. . .] Humble servt

David Thomas

P.S. having recd. this letter from Mr. Cuyler since I had the honor of seeing you today I thought it incumbent on me to made this application [. . .] in this way—

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 11:0082-3); torn; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Mch. and “Commrs bkrptcy. at Willsborough. N.Y.” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Stephen Cuyler to David Thomas, Willsboro, 8 Feb. 1803, regarding a letter of 12 Jan. from Thomas to “your friend” James McCrea, on the “Subject of Commissioners of Bancruptcy”; McCrea remains interested in the case and Cuyler agrees the case merits a bankruptcy commission (RC in same, 11:0086). (2) James McCrea to David Thomas, Willsboro, 13 Dec. 1802, on the “situation of an unfortunate man, imprisoned in this county on an Execution in favour of a person deceased and against whose Estate he holds a demand nearly Equal to the Debt against himself”; a commission serving the northern New York counties would benefit the individual in this case and also others who might subsequently apply; he has written to the president on the subject but retains the letter in anticipation of getting Thomas’s opinion on the matter; the persons agreed upon by him and the individual in question are Peter Sailly, Stephen Cuyler, and himself but “should any other person in this Quarter meet more fully the approbation & the wishes of Genl Thomas he will please to have him named in my Stead” (RC in same, 11:0088-9).

David Thomas (1762–1831) was born in Massachusetts and served as an infantryman in Massachusetts regiments during the Revolution. He settled in Washington County, New York, where he kept a tavern, worked as a merchant, and became an officer in the state militia. After holding some local offices and serving in the state assembly, he was elected as a Republican to the Seventh Congress. Reelected three times, he resigned his seat in 1808, after which he served a couple of stints as state treasurer of New York. During the 1804 New York elections, he appears to have supported Aaron Burr, having been one of the Republicans seeking assurances of TJ’s neutrality in the gubernatorial race and subsequently communicating those assurances in the press. Rufus King identified him as one of the “democratical Members of Congress from the East” who agreed with the opinion Burr had shared with Federalist congressman Roger Griswold, that “the northern States must be governed by Virginia, or govern Virginia” (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Worcester National Aegis, 30 Nov. 1831; Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 2:853, 863, 865).

On the following day, TJ appointed as bankruptcy commissioners for Willsboro, Peter Sailly, Stephen Cuyler, and James McCrea (Vol. 37:709, 711n; Appendix I: List of Appointments).

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