Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Mountjoy Bayly, 14 December 1803

From Mountjoy Bayly

George Town Decr. 14th 1803


From your well known disposition to attend to what ever may promote the interests of the community whose concerns are committed to you, I am incouraged to solicit your attention to the application I had the Honor to make to you on the 13th. respecting the Sulphur Spring in the Genessee Country. I have some time since delivered to the Secretary at War a discription of that spring which I suppose has been laid before you.

When this property was about to be sold to a subject of Great Britain my first wish was to secure to my own Country what I deemed an Object of Great importance. with this View I made the effort I had the Honor to explain to you. In persuing this Object I have been put to both trouble and expence. It is now in the power of the United States to Obtain this spring at what I think a very Low price, and in doing so I trust its agents will not deem the small profit I hope for, illy bestowed upon a man who possessing every wish to serve his Country, is not in circumstances to justify his diverting any part of his time or money from a large family, who have no dependance but upon his personal exertions.

I have the Honor to be with High respect & Esteem your Hum. Servt.

Mountjoy Bayly

NB I will have the Honor to call on you on Saturday at noon. MB

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “To the President”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Dec. and so recorded in SJL.

Mountjoy Bayly (1755-1836) of Frederick County, Maryland, served as a Continental officer during the American Revolution, as a representative in the Maryland legislature in the 1780s and 1790s, and as a general in the state militia. A Federalist, he made a failed bid for a seat in Congress in 1800 and declared himself insolvent in 1805. From 1811 to 1833, he was sergeant at arms of the U.S. Senate (Papenfuse, Maryland Legislature description begins Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, and Gregory A. Stiverson, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789, Baltimore, 1979-85, 2 vols. description ends , 1:119; Maryland Herald and Elizabeth-Town Advertiser, 21 Nov. 1799, 2 Oct. 1800; New York Republican Watch-Tower, 29 Oct. 1800; Maryland Gazette, 2 Jan. 1806).

The sulphur spring to which Bayly refers was probably the mineral spring that later spawned the town of Clifton Springs in Ontario County, New York. Like Bayly, several of the initial explorers and settlers of the area were from Frederick County, Maryland (O. Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps & Gorham’s Purchase, and Morris’ Reserve [Rochester, N.Y., 1852], 228-9, 258n; Frederick Loren Gifford, The Early History of the Village of Clifton Springs [Canandaigua, N.Y., 1984], 9).

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