Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph H. Nicholson, 7 November 1803

From Joseph H. Nicholson

Novr. 7. 1803


I do myself the Honor to enclose you a Letter from Major Thomas Smyth; requesting that he be named to you, as an Applicant for Office in Louisiana—Knowing the number of Applications which are now before the Executive for Office in this Country, I would not have added another to the List, but under an Impression of Duty—I beg Leave to add that this Gentleman is a Man of Business, with a good Character, and that I believe he served in the American Army, during the greater part of the Revolutionary War—

I am Sir with the highest Consideration Yr. Ob. Servt.

Joseph H. Nicholson

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 7 Nov. and “Smyth Thos. for office N.O.” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Thomas Smyth, Jr., to Nicholson, Baltimore, 4 Nov. 1803, noting that he plans to move to the newly acquired territory with his family “as soon as it is deliver’d to our Government”; he requests that Nicholson, a long-time acquaintance, apply to the president on his behalf for an appointment “in the Revenue” at New Orleans (RC in same).

Believing that his earlier application had not received the “earnest solicitation, or particular recommendation” he desired, Smyth, a merchant of Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland, wrote Madison later in November and applied specifically for the position of naval officer at New Orleans. For information respecting his “Capacity and principles,” Smyth referred the secretary of state to Maryland senators Samuel Smith and Robert Wright and Senator John Taylor. In the House, he used Samuel Hammond of Georgia and Walter Bowie “and the Representatives of Maryland generally” as references. Smyth noted that he would have secured “independence and comfort” as a merchant during the Revolutionary War if he had not taken up arms for the American cause (Smyth to Madison, 25 Nov., RC in same, endorsed by TJ: “to be Navl officer N.O.”; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 6:100).

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