Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Seth Pease, 23 May 1809

To Seth Pease

Monticello May 23. 09.


I beg leave to present to your notice the bearer hereof mr Isham Lewis, a nephew of mine who proposes to become a resident of the Missisipi or Orleans territory. you will find him to be of excellent dispositions, correct in his conduct, and of a sound understanding,1 aided only by a common education. he wishes to find employment in the business of surveying; and it is to request you to aid him in effecting this desire that I take the liberty of recommending him to your patronage. I would not do it, were he not worthy of your entire confidence, and possessing qualities which might render him useful & of value to you. he is without resources, but in his own industry; and has learnt only the common principles of surveying, having had as yet but little opportunity of practising it. but he has the capacity and the desire of advancing himself in it’s higher branches, and if favored by proper opportunities, will make himself eminent. having his welfare & success much at heart, I sollicit your good offices for him, and will consider any service2 you may be so good as to render him in the way of emploiment as done to myself; and I take this opportunity of assuring you of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Seth Pease esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

Seth Pease (ca. 1764–1819), surveyor and mathematician, was a native of Suffield, Connecticut, who surveyed the Western Reserve of Ohio, including the site of present-day Cleveland, the Holland Purchase in western New York, and the district of Maine during the mid-to-late 1790s. In 1806, as word spread of Aaron Burr’s supposed conspiracy, Pease’s brother-in-law Gideon Granger, the postmaster general, dispatched him along the route to New Orleans with the authority to replace any postal official whose loyalty could not be relied on. Perhaps partially to reward Pease for this service, TJ appointed him surveyor of public lands south of Tennessee early in 1807. He resigned this post in July 1810 to become second assistant postmaster general under Granger (Charles Whittlesey, Early History of Cleveland, Ohio [1867], 169, 329–30; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:50, 54 [23 Feb., 2 Mar. 1807]; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:433; TJ to Granger, 9 Mar. 1814; Washington National Intelligencer, 6 Sept. 1819).

1TJ here canceled “little.”

2Word interlined in place of “assiss.”

Index Entries

  • Granger, Gideon; as postmaster general search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Lewis, Isham (TJ’s nephew); letters of introduction for, from TJ search
  • Pease, Seth; identified search
  • Pease, Seth; letters to search
  • Pease, Seth; TJ recommends I. Lewis to search
  • surveying; occupation of search