Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Tichenor, 22 March 1803

From Isaac Tichenor

Bennington March 22d. 1803


In compliance with your request of the 25th. of last month, I herewith enclose a Return of the Militia of this State—It will give me pleasure to communicate to our Legislature the Sentiments and principles expressed in your address on the Subject of our Militia—And you may be assured, that my official & personal influence will be exerted, to render the Militia of this State, a sure & conspicuous part of our “national defense”

With due Respect & Esteem I am Your Excellency’s Most Obt. Servt.

Isaac Tichenor

RC (PHi); addressed: “The President of the United States City of Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Apr. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

New Jersey native Isaac Tichenor (1754–1838) graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1775, then moved to upstate New York to study law. He later settled in Bennington, Vermont, where he became an influential political leader and played a key role in securing statehood for Vermont in 1791. A Federalist, Tichenor held a number of state offices during the 1780s and 1790s before his election to the United States Senate in 1796. He resigned the following year to become governor of Vermont, retaining the office until 1807 despite Republican majorities in the legislature after 1801. He briefly regained the office in 1808, due in large part to the unpopularity of TJ’s embargo in the state, but lost a reelection bid the following year. He served again in the Senate from 1815 until 1821, when he retired from public life (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775: A Biographical Dictionary [Princeton, 1980], 528–36).

your request of the 25th. of last month: Tichenor laid a copy of TJ’s 25 Feb. circular letter regarding the militia before the Vermont legislature on 15 Oct. In his message to the assembly the preceding day, Tichenor reminded legislators that the militia “must be well armed and equipped,” which required legislative support. “Our safety and freedom essentially depend on this class of our fellow citizens,” he added. “It is our highest interest as a nation to engraft the character of the soldier on the citizen, and to cherish that spirit which gave us independence. It will be a sure and cheap defence” (Journals of the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, At Their Session, Begun and Holden at Westminster, in the County of Windham, on Thursday, the Thirteenth Day of October, A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Three [Windsor, Vt., 1804], 16, 25–6).

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