Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Robert Smith, 10 [July] 1809

To Robert Smith

Monticello. June [July] 10. 09.

Dear Sir

I inclose you a letter from mr Smith of Erie, one of the members of Pensylvania, which you will readily percieve ought to have been addressed to you by himself; as it is official, & not personal opinion which can answer his views. I am however gratified by his mistake in sending it to me, inasmuch as it gives me an opportunity of abstracting myself from my rural occupations, & of saluting one with whom I have been connected in service & in society so many years, & to whose aid & relief on an important portion of the public cares, I have been so much indebted. I do it with sincere affection & gratitude, and look back with peculiar satisfaction on the harmony & cordial good will which, to ourselves & our brethren of the Cabinet so much sweetened our toils. from the characters now associated in the administration, I have no doubt of the continuance of the same cordiality so interesting to themselves & to the public; & great as are the difficulties & dangers environing our camp, I sleep with perfect composure knowing who are watching for us. I pray you to present me respectfully to mrs Smith, & to accept my prayers that you may long continue in the enjoiment of health & the public esteem in return for your useful services past & to come.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC: TJ Papers, 187:33333); at foot of text (faint): “The hon[ble] Robert Smith Secy of State”; misdated, but recorded in SJL under 10 July 1809. Printed, dated 10 June 1809 and with minor alterations, in Smith’s Address to the People of the United States (Baltimore, 1811), 39.

Robert Smith (1757–1842), James Madison’s first secretary of state, was a lawyer in Baltimore who served as TJ’s secretary of the navy, 1801–09, and as his attorney general for a few months in 1805. After an extended feud with Albert Gallatin, the treasury secretary, Smith resigned on 1 Apr. 1811 at the request of Madison, who cited inefficiency and Smith’s public criticism of the administration. Shortly thereafter Smith publicly accused Madison of financial improprieties while secretary of state, effectively ending his own political career and his correspondence with TJ, which after 1809 was principally concerned with the controversy over the Batture Sainte Marie in New Orleans (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Princetonians description begins James McLachlan and others, eds., Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary, 1976–90, 5 vols. description ends , 1776–83, pp. 342–52).

TJ neglected to enclose the letter from Samuel smith (note to TJ to Samuel Smith [of Pennsylvania], 9 July 1809; Robert Smith to TJ, 15 July 1809).

Index Entries

  • Address to the People of the United States (R. Smith) search
  • Robert Smith’s Address to the People of the United States (Smith) search
  • Smith, Margaret (Robert Smith’s wife) search
  • Smith, Robert; identified search
  • Smith, Robert; letters to search
  • Smith, Robert; opposes A. Gallatin search
  • Smith, Robert; Robert Smith’s Address to the People of the United States search
  • Smith, Robert; secretary of the navy search
  • Smith, Robert; TJ thanks search
  • Smith, Samuel (of Pennsylvania); and pardon of Lowrys search