Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 21 June 1803

From Albert Gallatin

21 June 1803

Dear Sir

I enclose a letter from the Commissioner of the revenue respecting Mr Gordon’s claim: as he gave a memorandum in writing, Mr G. should produce it.—also recommendations from Messrs. Bacon & Varnum in favor of Francis Carr for the office of Naval officer at Newbury port. The present incumbent is Jonathan Titcomb1 of whom I know nothing—also a letter from Tench Coxe: his suggestions of a report proceeding from Messrs. Madison & Lewis are without foundation; but Capn. Lewis says that the Republicans in Philada. seem generally agreed that in case of the removal of either of the two custom house officers, he, Mr Coxe, is entitled to the preference. The salary of the naval officer (M’pherson) is 3,500 dollars, of the surveyor (Jackson) 3000, & of the purveyor only 2,000. I feel no hesitation in saying that on the grounds of public services, & capacity as well as on Account of his having been formerly removed, Mr Coxe’s pretensions to the most lucrative of those offices which may be vacated appear well founded: personal predilection for him I have not & I do not know who would be the best person to appoint purveyor, if he was made Surveyor; but justice seemed to require that expression of my opinion in his favor on that point. There would, however, be an objection to his being substituted in lieu of Mr M’pherson which does not apply to his replacing Jackson: in the first instance the act of giving to a man who had left the Americans & joined the British, the office of him who had left the British to join the Americans would make too forcible a contrast. Yet, to me, the prefect of the Pretorian bands is much more obnoxious than the insignificant Jackson. As it will be necessary for me to answer Mr Coxe’s letter, I wish to know your final determination respecting those Philadelphia offices, in order that my answer may be properly modified to meet your own intentions; it seems to me that if the surveyor’s place is to be given to another person, it will be proper without entering into any confidential communications that I should inform Mr Coxe that he was altogether mistaken, & that you had not intended any other office for him than that of purveyor. It is proper at the same time that you should know that although this last office has a less salary affixed to it, perhaps because it is less laborious, it is more respectable, important, & responsible than that of surveyor. The surveyor is the head of the tide-waiters, inspectors & other out-doors inferior officers of the custom house, distributes them on board the vessels, recieves their reports, watches smuggling & other irregular proceedings &a; but not a single penny of public monies passes through his hands. The purveyor is by law the officer who should make all the purchases of clothing, stores &a. for the war & navy departments; and several hundred thousand dollars pass annually through his hands. He is practically employed principally by the Secretary of War; the navy department having, improperly in my opinion, continued to employ in Philada. agents (Harrison & Sterret) to whom a commission is paid for services which the purveyor ought to perform.—By conversing with Capn. Lewis you will receive every necessary information respecting public opinion & feeling in Philada.; and you will perceive that I cannot wish to communicate with any person there on the subject of removals & offices except with a full knowledge of your ultimate determination & even then not without some considerable reluctance. I think, however, that what is right in itself ought to be done without being deterred by the imputation that the ward-meetings have compelled the Executive to Act in a different way from what he intended; and the intemperance of some individuals will not prevent my communicating to you my impressions even when the result is favorable to their views as freely as if they had acted & spoken with perfect propriety.

Robert Hays Marshal of West Tenessee has drawn improperly on the Treasury for more than 2 thd. dollars. The bill was not paid & on a settlement of his accounts about one thousand dollars were found due to him. In order to apologize for his having drawn the two thousand he pretends now that a bill drawn more than a year ago by him on the Treasury in favor of Henning & Dixon, (who is I believe Dixon of Congress) endorsed by them to a respectable merchant in Philada. to whom it was paid by the Treasury, was a forgery. Should that be the case there will be no loss as the endorsers are perfectly responsible. But from comparing the hand writing, from the respectability of the parties & various other circumstances, I have not the least doubt of that his assertion being altogether false. This having led me to further enquiry, I find that he never writes any thing but his name & that sometimes under the visible effects of intoxication, that he renders his accounts irregularly & always in an incomplete manner, that he is incapable & has contracted such habits of intemperance as render it necessary that he should be removed. The only persons I know in West Tenessee are Mr Dixon the member of Congress & Andrew Jackson formerly a member: the two Senators live in East Tenessee which is a distinct district with a Marshal of its own. Where Mr Smith lives I do not positively know but believe in East Tenessee. Please to direct what shall be done & whether I may write to Messrs. Dixon & Jackson or to either of them for information of a proper successor.

With sincere respect & attachment Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 22 June and “Gordon’s claim.—Carr v. Titcomb.—Tenche Coxe. Jackson. Mc.pherson. Hayes Marshal of W. Tennissee” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) John Bacon to Gallatin, 11 June 1803, from Boston, where he is attending the General Court; having learned that a vacancy is soon to occur in the surveyor’s office at Newburyport, Bacon recommends Francis Carr of Haverhill, in Essex County, for the position; he personally attests to Carr as “a gentleman of integrity, system,” and industry, who has adhered to “sound political sentiments” without rendering himself “either odious, or despicable” to those of opposite sentiments (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Carr Francis to be Surveyor of Newbury port v. <Jona. Titcomb> Michael Hodge”). (2) Tench Coxe to Gallatin, Philadelphia, 16 June 1803, informing the Treasury secretary that he has heard that the purveyorship may be transferred to Washington, but the emoluments of the office will not allow him to move his family from Philadelphia; he has received information through reputable channels that Madison and Meriwether Lewis indicated “that the President had determined upon another change here in my favor,” and they were not referring to the purveyor’s office; Coxe saw Lewis several times and spent a day with him, but those “great public Subjects, which are not to be neglected at this time, were our only topics,” he notes, “I never spoke to him of myself”; Coxe does not want his willingness to perform the duties of the purveyorship to prevent his appointment to a vacancy at the custom house in Philadelphia (RC in NHi: Gallatin Papers; at head of text: “private”). Other enclosures not found.

For an earlier endorsement of francis carr as surveyor at Newburyport in place of Michael Hodge who was characterized as “violent against the administration,” see Levi Lincoln to TJ, 13 Dec. 1802. John Bacon also recommended Carr as surveyor, not naval officer (see Enclosure No. 1, above). jonathan titcomb continued as naval officer until 1812, but TJ replaced Hodge in February 1809 (Washington, Papers, Rev. War Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, Edward C. Lengel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983- , 57 vols., Confed. Ser., 1992–97, 6 vols., Pres. Ser., 1987- , 16 vols., Ret. Ser., 1998–99, 4 vols., Rev. War Ser., 1985- , 21 vols. description ends , 16:260n; same, Pres. Ser., 3:84; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States…to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 2:107–8).

formerly removed: Coxe lost his position as commissioner of the revenue in December 1797. On 17 June 1801, TJ wrote Coxe explaining why he had not restored him to the position from which he had been “so unjustly removed” (Vol. 34:372, 447–8, 450n). joined the british: for Coxe’s attachment to the British cause during the American Revolution, see Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic [Chapel Hill, 1978], 25–43. prefect of the pretorian bands: that is, militia commander of “McPherson’s Blues” (Vol. 34:426–8; Vol. 37:539).

harrison & sterret: that is, George Harrison, navy agent at Philadelphia since 1799, and Samuel Sterett, former Baltimore merchant, Maryland congressman from 1791 to 1793, and navy agent with his brother Joseph Sterett. After the failure of his business in Baltimore, Samuel Sterett moved to Philadelphia and established a partnership with Harrison. As the Philadelphia agent of Van Staphorst & Hubbard, TJ corresponded with Harrison & Sterett in 1796 (NDQW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France, Naval Operations, Washington, D.C., 1935–38, 7 vols. (cited by years) description ends , Dec. 1800-Dec. 1801, 374–5; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 24:413n; Vol. 23:495; Vol. 29:106–7, 186, 212, 329, 458; Vol. 30:503).

As a member of Congress in 1797, Andrew Jackson used his influence to have robert hays appointed marshal. Hays was married to Jane Donelson, sister of Jackson’s wife, Rachel (Harold D. Moser and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 8 vols. [Knoxville, 1980- ], 1:35n, 124). dixon of congress: William Dickson. two senators: Joseph Anderson and William Cocke. mr smith: probably Daniel Smith, who attended the College of William and Mary and in 1784 moved to Cumberland County, in East Tennessee. He filled the state’s vacancy in the U.S. Senate after Jackson resigned in 1798. In 1800, Smith sent TJ a “vocabulary of the Chickasaw language” (same, 1:16n, 259n; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Vol. 32:44, 134).

1TJ underlined “Jonathan Titcomb” and wrote “Michael Hodge” in the left margin.

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