Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 21 March 1803

From Albert Gallatin

Washington 21 March 1803

Dear Sir

I enclose the only letters of any importance which I have received since you left the city. The answer to that from Mr Thornton is also enclosed. To Mr Muhlenberg I answered generally that I would approve what he might think best to be done respecting the inspectors. I foresee a schism in Pennsylvania; the most thinking part of the community will not submit to the decree of partial ward or township meetings; and yet the violent party will have a strong hold on public opinion in representing that those who resist them must be considered as the friends of Jackson & Mcpherson. I have not heard whether they mean to address you, but hope they may not; and this incident will, at all events, render the question of removals still more delicate & difficult.

I had a long conversation with Capn. Murray of the Constellation; he says that at any time from March to the latter end of September whilst he was on the Tripoli station, peace might have been obtained for five thousand dollars, and that the opportunity has been lost by the delays of Morris in the vicinity of Gibraltar and in going up the Mediterranean, but that he is much afraid that now, that they are no longer at war with Sweden, matters accommodated with France, & no further danger apprehended by the Bashaw from his brother, a peace cannot be obtained but upon very extravagant terms. The refusal of a passport to the Morocco provision ship he considers as ridiculous; as it could not affect the state of affairs in relation to Tripoli, and those uncivilized States cannot understand the refined theory of the law of nations & of the duties of neutrals: he adds that there was not, when he left Europe any danger to be apprehended from Morocco; the only source of uneasiness being the non-arrival of the gun-carriages.

The late accounts from Algiers & Tunis appear unpleasant. No time, it Seems, should be lost in sending the stores to Algiers; and the appointment of a proper character in the Mediterranean to have the superintendence of the Barbary affairs appears indispensible. Will you be able to find such one? I feel more uneasy about the state of affairs in that quarter than1 in relation to the Louisiana business. You did not mention whether Mr Briggs would accept the appointment of surveyor at Natchez.

With sincere respect & attachment Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 25 Mch. and “Thornton’s lre concerng. customs Michillim. Muhlenberg’s Inspectors. Murray & Morris: Barbary affairs. Briggs” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Peter Muhlenberg to Gallatin, Philadelphia, 17 Mch. 1803, requesting advice and direction on continuing Joseph Wharton as customs inspector, noting that he had previously informed the Treasury secretary that Wharton “was nominally—& not in reality” carrying out the duties of an inspector; Wharton’s “situation” is generally known and he has been continued solely on the word of Muhlenberg’s predecessor, George Latimer, who claims that he “stated the matter fully to you” and received your approbation; if Gallatin is still of that opinion, the collector will continue Wharton in office “without assigning any reasons for so doing,” but because of pressure in another quarter, “some of the Inspectors, who are particularly obnoxious,” must be removed; Muhlenberg directs Gallatin’s attention to the newspapers and the stir caused “in the City, relative to continuing in Office, Men of a certain description”; while resolutions passed by the meetings have been chiefly leveled against William Jones, the collector comes in for “a full share, not only of blame, but abuse”; knowing the source of this protest, Muhlenberg pledges he will not be forced into measures which are “injurious to my Country & the Government” (RC in Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:209; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:271). Other enclosures not found.

The letter from Edward thornton to the Treasury secretary and Gallatin’s response have not been found, but according to TJ’s endorsement Thornton’s letter related to “customs” at Michilimackinac. On 16 Mch., Gallatin wrote David Duncan, the collector at the port, that as long as a custom house was not established at the falls at St. Mary’s “goods passing towards and through Lake Superior need not be attended to.” If Duncan, before receiving instructions, had “seized any merchandize the property of either of the North West Companies, which may have been landed and stored on the American side of the Straights,” Gallatin authorized and directed him “to restore the same.” Duncan was instructed, however, to collect duties on merchandise sold by the company while in storage (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:205).

For the letter from Philadelphia customs collector Peter muhlenberg, see the enclosure described above. Muhlenberg wrote in response to the meetings of “democratic republican citizens” being held in private homes in Philadelphia wards. The first gathering, held at the house of Alexander Moore in the South Ward on 9 Mch., chose Joseph Scott as chairman and passed five resolutions. The first noted that Federalists holding federal office in Pennsylvania “being hostile to republican principles, and unfriendly to the present administration,” were “highly obnoxious to the people.” The second charged that attempts were being made to “mislead” the president into thinking that support for removing the Federalists from office was confined to a small minority of Republicans, particularly “interested individuals.” The third resolution recommended that “democratic republican citizens” throughout the commonwealth hold meetings and appoint committees to take proper measures for transmitting memorials to the president declaring their “real sentiment.” The fourth called for the appointment of a committee of three to meet with similar committees from the different wards to prepare the memorials. They also determined that their proceedings should be published in the Aurora. Another assembly pronounced that Republican officials who criticized the protests were “deserving of the most pointed censure and no longer worthy of their confidence.” Numerous ward meetings held throughout Philadelphia in the coming weeks culminated with an address to the president in mid-July (Philadelphia Aurora, 11, 16, 17, 23, 31 Mch., 2, 11, 13 Apr. 1803; Address from the Philadelphia Ward Committees to TJ, [before 17 July 1803]). those who resist them: on 30 Mch., Alexander J. Dallas described the ward meetings as a “nuisance,” which would bring discredit to Republican interests. The participation of John Barker in the proceedings proved that the clamor proceeded from “interested Candidates” for office. “The meetings are composed of very few indeed,” Dallas noted, “and the only real mischief to be apprehended, is the disgust excited in the minds of men like Capt. Jones.” Republican congressman William Jones, Dallas’s close friend, openly opposed the proscription of all Federalists as a test of one’s commitment to Jeffersonian Republicanism (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:239; Andrew Shankman, Crucible of American Democracy: The Struggle to Fuse Egalitarianism & Capitalism in Jeffersonian Pennsylvania [Lawrence, Kans., 2004], 98–9; Joseph H. Nicholson to TJ, 10 May 1803). friends of jackson & mcpherson: that is, Federalists William Jackson and William McPherson, surveyor and naval officer, respectively, at the Philadelphia customs office (Vol. 34:428n; Vol. 36:182n, 183n).

For the peace settlement between Tripoli and sweden, see Vol. 39:192, 195n. no further danger: Ahmad Qaramanli, brother of Yusuf Qaramanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, finally accepted an appointment at Derna, a province in eastern Libya, in August 1802 (Kola Folayan, “Tripoli and the War with the U.S.A., 1801–5,” Journal of African History, 13 [1972], 263). See also Topics for Consultation with Heads of Departments, printed at 10 Feb.

refusal of a passport: see TJ to Madison, 9 Aug. and Gallatin to TJ, 20 Aug. 1802.

late accounts: see Madison to TJ, 17 Mch.

1MS: “that.”

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