Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joshua Danforth, 16 July 1803

From Joshua Danforth

Pittsfield July 16th. 1803


Although I have not the honor of being personally acquainted with you, yet my veneration & esteem for you is great.—I feel grateful towards you because you have devoted a great portion of your useful life to the service of our Common Country for which you ought to receive the thanks of the American People.—

My principal object in making this Communication is to send you the last Pittsfield paper which contains the Toasts drank, on the fourth of July, by the Inhabitants of Lenox & Pittsfield.

There has been a republican paper established in this Town for almost three years.—It has in my Opinion, been well conducted.—I believe that the editor of the “Sun” at the request of Mr. Bidwell forwarded to you his paper for some months, but not knowing whether it was agreeable to you he discontinued it.—I wish you would become a Subscriber to this paper as it would encourage the printer—I think it is probable you have a great many applications of this kind, but I doubt whether many of them are entitled to as much Consideration as this.

A motion will be made at the next Session of the Legislature of Massachusetts to divide the State into districts, for the Choice of electors of President &c, but it is very uncertain whether it will suceed, if it should, Massachusetts will give eight or nine Votes to the republican Candidate for President.

I am personally acquainted with Judge Lincoln the Attorney Genl. & Mr. Granger P.M. Genl.—Please to enquire of them as to my Character.

With the most Sincere wishes for your happiness & prosperity I am with great respect Your friend

Joshua Danforth

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 27 July and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but see below.

Joshua Danforth (1759-1837), a native of western Massachusetts, commenced service in the American Revolution as a 15-year-old clerk under his father’s company. He became an officer and, in 1781, was promoted to paymaster with the rank of captain. After the war, he settled in Pittsfield and entered the mercantile business. From 1794 to 1823, he held a variety of state and national offices, including justice of the peace, postmaster, town clerk, treasurer, selectman, assessor, representative to the state legislature, and sessions court justice in Berkshire County. During the Madison administration, he received appointments as marshal and revenue collector for his district (David D. Field, A History of the Town of Pittsfield in Berkshire County, Mass. [Hartford, Mass., 1844], 63-5, 77; Pittsfield Sun, 2 Feb. 1837).

fourth of july: Danforth probably enclosed a copy of the Pittsfield Sun of 11 July, which included accounts of the Independence Day festivities in Lenox. The celebration consisted of a procession, a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the courthouse, and a formal dinner followed by 17 toasts and cannon discharges. According to the same issue of the newspaper, the ladies of Pittsfield had their own independence celebration with 7 toasts and an elegant repast at sundown in the shade of a green bowery.

Phinehas Allen was the editor of the Sun, the weekly Pittsfield newspaper established in 1800 and continued until after 1820. With the 23 May 1803 issue, the title changed to the Pittsfield Sun (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:391).

Barnabas bidwell of Stockbridge was a Massachusetts state senator from 1801 to 1804 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

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