Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Thomson Mason, 5 October 1803

From John Thomson Mason

George Town 5th October 1803

Dear Sir

I have this moment received the inclosed letter from a Gentleman I beleive personally known to you. The letter I think might have been properly addressed to you and therefore it is that I take the liberty of thus sending it. The great respect and attachment which I formed for the author of this letter in early life, and which the lapse of seventeen years has ripened into a sincere friendship, authorized him to ask and expect that I should make his wishes known to you. The mode which I have adopted is the best that has suggested itself to my mind

I have the honor to be with great respect and regard Your Obedt. Servt.

John. T. Mason

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 6 Oct. and “Brown James. to be Collector of N. Orleans” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: James Brown to Mason, Lexington, 20 Sep. 1803, writes that the “general sentiment of joy” in Kentucky caused by the purchase of Louisiana is being replaced with “the gloomy apprehension” that the Senate may block the acquisition; Federalists will feel no restraint in opposing the measure, and only unanimity among the Republicans will ensure success; Brown worries, however, that “Eastern jealousy” may divide the Republicans; the middle and southern states will partially sacrifice the value of their property as inhabitants migrate to Louisiana, and Brown is convinced that, except for residents along the lower Mississippi River, no part of the country will gain more from the purchase than the eastern states, which will undoubtedly come to dominate the western carrying trade; in addition, western dependence on eastern warships will help to “cement the Union”; concerns over declining real estate values caused by removals to Louisiana are well founded, but Brown observes that this migration would take place even if Louisiana remained in foreign hands; “The population of Louisiana is at all events to flow from the United States,” opines Brown, so it is only good policy for the United States to possess the country; Brown has decided to become an inhabitant of New Orleans for reasons “partly personal and partly political”; the warmer climate will improve his health and he has long wished to “convert my property into Cash and live upon the interest”; as an opponent of the Federalists and an admirer of the present administration, Brown wishes to “aid in implanting the same correct opinions and political principles” in Louisiana; to support himself, Brown has solicited the office of collector at New Orleans, but admits that his acquaintance with TJ is limited to “one or two visits” and his “ties of consanguinity” with both Kentucky senators “renders it indelicate” to use them as references; Brown feels that no one has known him longer or better than Mason, and he hopes that Mason “can find an opportunity of conversing with Mr. Jefferson on the subject and of promoting my views”; if the collectorship is unobtainable, then any equivalent office would be acceptable and Brown asks Mason to inform him of his prospects for an appointment soon (same).

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