Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Bankhead, 15 August 1803

From James Bankhead

Broad field Westmoreland County.
August 15th. 1803

Dear Sir—

This opportunity by Mr. Jos. Monroe, enables me to make a request, so early, that no other can have anticipated me in it; which may secure what I request should there be no other considerations—I have presumed, from report and other circumstances, that Mr. James Monroe will continue in Europe as resident Embassador, and should I be correct in the presumption, it is my ardent wish, to be placed with him as Secretary; which office, I request, from a conviction of the many advantages, I shall derive from it; as well as a desire to be with Mr Monroe, and a belief of my abilities to perform its functions—If I have erred in my conjecture, or have been too precipitate in writing to you on this subject; I hope, Sir, you will excuse me, and attribute the error to the great anxiety I have of being in the office requested—May I flatter my-self with the pleasure of hearing from you on this subject?—

I have the honor to be, Dr. Sir, with great esteem and respect yr Obt. Servt.

Jas. Bankhead

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 31 Aug. and “to be Secy. legn to London” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in Joseph Jones Monroe to TJ, 26 Aug. 1803.

Nephew of TJ’s friend Dr. John Bankhead, James Bankhead (1783-1856), of Westmoreland County, Virginia, read law in Richmond with another relative, James Monroe. In 1804, Bankhead left for Europe, joined Monroe in Spain, and served as secretary of the legation. When Bankhead returned to the U.S. in 1806, Monroe encouraged the president to consider him for a consular position, noting he was “an intelligent worthy young man.” Bankhead began a career in the army in 1808, where he was commissioned as a captain in the Fifth Infantry. He served in the adjutant general’s department during the War of 1812. He was promoted to major in 1814 and to lieutenant colonel in 1832. In 1838, he was breveted as a colonel for his meritorious service in the Seminole War and in 1847 to brigadier general for his “conspicuous gallantry” at Veracruz during the war with Mexico. He resided in Baltimore as commander of the U.S. Army’s Department of the East at Fort McHenry at the time of his death (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 , 2:99, 483, 503; Lyon G. Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, 5 vols. [New York, 1915], 2:201-2; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 6:98, 8:132, 402, 9:406; same, Pres. Ser., 5:254; Alexandria Gazette, 17 Nov. 1856; Vol. 36:656n; Monroe to TJ, 15, 20 June 1806).

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