Thomas Jefferson Papers

Oliver Whipple to Thomas Jefferson, 29 March 1810

From Oliver Whipple

Georgetown March 29th 1810.

Respected Sr

You will pardon me for persuing y[ou i]nto the Shades of retirement: I do not wish to disturb your Repose; but to bring to your recollection, that there is a person now resident here (whose signature you will remember) who, tho’ he has no demands for the fullfilment of any specific promises, during your late administration, has some claims on your Friendship, and Generosity. You will certainly remember the recommendations given of the undersigned by the late Governor Fenner of Rhode Island as well as by Judge Foster, and Col Gardiner of that State; (all Members of Congress, while you was in administration, at Washington.)1 You will also recollect the Letters transmitted to you, wrote by Major Allen late of our Revolutionary Army, from Rhode Island; acknowledging the promptitude, and Exertions of my Services in your Administration; as well as the numerous Communications, made thro’ the Attentions of my late Friend Col Knight, wherin you could not, but be informed of the imense Labour, and voluminous writings in favour of the republican Cause in general in that State, and of your particular Administration, against the groundless & calumnious Charges of your active Enemies. And you will, (I have no doubt) remember my auxilliary Efforts, in aid of your Measures, taken at that Time, in a Manuscript Phamphlet, on the Subject of the spanish Spoilations, in answer to Jared Ingersol & others, of which you was pleased to express to me by note your full approbation. This steady Tenor of Conduct, Thro the whole of your Administration, has lost me the former Friendship of a number of my near relations, who have been, and still are, high in the Ranks of Feoderalism. I am now at Georgetown, near the City, where I have been since the Commencement of the present Sessions. I bro’t no letters to Presedent Madison, but only to the Heads of the War, and post office departments, from the late Minister of war Mr Dearborn; but nothing is yet done for me; I do Sr most ardently wish that some appointment may take place in my native State Rhode Island, where my Family are now destined: I have no Suspicions of the Want of Friendship or attention in Mr Eustis or Mr Granger; but could you find a Freedom to address a letter (as I bro’t none to the Presedent) to give him Information of my exertions in the Cause of Government, at the same Time soliciting and recommending me to his Notice, when any Thing honorary may occur, in that State or Massachusetts, I shall feel grateful, and it will in some Measure compensate for the many Sneers, hard Looks, and Rebuffs, I have received, for vindicating your honour, Administration, and the Principles of Republicanism. I am Sr with the highest Consideration your most obedient and humble Servant.

Oliver Whipple

PS. If you shall be pleased to write the Presedent, on this Subject, pray inclose it to me, at Georgetown, I wish it before Congress rises which will take Place about 23d Instant

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); torn at seal; addressed: “The honble Thomas Jefferson Esquire Monticello Virginia”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Apr. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Oliver Whipple (1744–1813), a native of Cumberland, Rhode Island, graduated from Harvard College in 1766, and in 1771 he began a legal career that took him to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and the District of Columbia. He represented the town of Hampton in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as a Federalist, 1796–1800. Whipple dedicated his poem, The Historic Progress of Civil and Rational Liberty, and Order, Triumphant over Faction (Portsmouth, N.H., 1802), to John Adams, but shortly thereafter began supporting TJ’s administration. Between 1805 and 1811 he successively petitioned TJ and James Madison for federal appointments, including diplomatic posts, government clerkships, and the office of sergeant at arms of the United States Senate. These efforts all failed, and Whipple spent his last years as a private attorney in Georgetown (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates description begins John L. Sibley and others, eds., Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 1873– , 18 vols. description ends , 16:430–4; George L. Roth, “Verse Satire on ‘Faction,’ 1790–1815,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 3d ser., 17 [1960]: 475; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:138, 3:496–7; Whipple to TJ, 15 Feb. 1805 and 17 Nov. 1806 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–09]); Boston Columbian Centinel, 31 Mar. 1813).

Neither Arthur Fenner nor Caleb Gardiner served as members of congress. Whipple might have been confusing Fenner, a former governor, with his son James, who sat in the United States Senate, 1805–07, and was at this time governor of Rhode Island (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ). The note Whipple recalled receiving from TJ is not recorded in SJL and has not been found.

1Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Allen, William search
  • Congress, U.S.; adjourns search
  • Dearborn, Henry; recommendation by search
  • Eustis, William; as secretary of war search
  • Fenner, Arthur search
  • Fenner, James; governor of R.I. search
  • Foster, Theodore search
  • Gardiner, Caleb search
  • Granger, Gideon; as postmaster general search
  • Ingersoll, Jared; Philadelphia lawyer search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Knight, Nehemiah search
  • Madison, James; mentioned search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Whipple, Oliver; identified search
  • Whipple, Oliver; letters from search
  • Whipple, Oliver; letters to accounted for search
  • Whipple, Oliver; pro-Republican writings of search
  • Whipple, Oliver; seeks an appointment search