Thomas Jefferson Papers

Matthias Nack to Thomas Jefferson, 30 January 1811

From Matthias Nack

New york Janary 30 the 1811

Honoured & Respected Sir

I trust you will Pardon one who is Personally A Stranger To you, for Solliciting of you favours: when I inform you That By grief & Distress of almost Every kind I am Compelled to the Measure

After Experiencing the hardship of Exilement the Loss of Property and the Loss of My father and Mother (the former Dying in the Service of his Country) Losses I Cheerfully Submitted to in Support of the Principles Laid Down in our Excellent Decleration of Independence I Returned to this my1 Native City whare I found that the British & Tories in their Zeal for Plundering Whigs had not Left Even the Ruins which had Escaped the more mercifull flames: Being thus Situated I Sold my Small Piece of ground which happily it was not in the Power of the Kings Mirmydons to deprive me of and with the avails of which I Comenced Buisiness and made A Small fortune So that in the year 1796 I opened A Respectable Lumber yard: which Succeeded Very well at first, But when I Perceived that the federalists who were then in Power, encroached on the Liberties And independence of our Country, I Could Not help going forward in A Publick manner to Republican Meetings opposing Toryism and Supporting Republican Measures which when observed By my Customers & who were mostly federalists, they withdrew their Patronage The consequence of which was that my Lumber Remained on hand, wishing to Be independent of them: I Purchased A vessil & Shipped it to the west indies and continued in this trade with a Serious Success untill finally By the Loss of my vessell I was deprivd of every thing I Possessed in this Situation, A Sickly wife A Brother totaly Deprived of the Blessing of Sight and Seven children one of which has the Misfortune of Being Afflicted with insanity, I commenced the world Anew, in the year 1800 I applied to the Gouvernour & the Councill of Appointment of this State for the office of inspector of Lumber who Being that year Republican of course it was granted By means of which I have Been Enabled to Support my family tho indifferently, owing to the Situation of our forreign Relations, I was one who was willing To Submit to the Privations in consequenc of the Embargo and all measures which govenment May Adopt for the Preservation of our National Dignity, A Proof of which I have given By calling my youngest Son James Madison: But it is to Be Lamented that all our Republicans would not withstand the temorary Privations and Led Astray By federal Misrepresentations our Political Enemies obtained A temporry victory By which meanes they obtained the Councill of Appointment, Amongst those who were removed from office on account of their adherence to Republican Principles I am one Altho the Distressed Situation of my family was well known to them at the time these Circumstances has Brought us to the most complete state of wretchedness frequently we have not Bread to eat and A fall which I received Some years Since has Deprived me in A measure of the use of My right arm and encapacitated me from hard Labour under these circumstances I humbly intreat of you that you will Be pleased to use your interest with the President to give me an appointment as one of the2 Inspecters of the customes or an Agency for the Purching of Lumber understanding the nature of that Buisiness By Expeince I have had in the Prosecution of my duty as inspecter and having kept A Lumber yard for Some years, or Any thing which it May Please him to grant me which will Enable me to Support my family and Serve my country A Recommenation if Required Shall Be Sent on immediately

Your condescending to Pay the Least attention to this Matter3 and diegning to write to me will confer an obligation on your Excellencys Most Obedient and Most devoted Servant

Matthias Nack

N B Should there Be no vacancy I trust that if I could obtain A Loan of four or five hundred dollars to Enable me to Begin Business tho on A Small Scale yet with the Blessing of god I think I would in the course of two or three yeares Be [ena]bled to discharge the interest & Princ[iple] with gratitude


RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); torn at seal; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Mar. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to James Madison, 8 Mar. 1811.

Matthias Nack was a cartman in New York City who was named one of the representatives of the city’s firemen when they obtained an act of incorporation in 1798. He traded between New York and Jamaica with his vessel, the brig Friends, in 1800 and 1801, offered it for sale in the latter year, and was declared insolvent in 1802. Nack held the position of inspector of lumber intermittently from 1800 until at least 1821 (William Duncan, The New-York Directory, and Register, for the year 1791 [New York, 1791], 92; Laws of the State of New-York, Passed at the Twenty-First Session of the Legislature, Begun and Held at the City of Albany, the Second Day of January, 1798 [Albany, 1798], 332–3; New York American Citizen and General Advertiser, 13 Nov. 1800, 1 May 1801, 16 Aug. 1802; New York Republican Watch-Tower, 5 Dec. 1806; Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory [New York, 1821], 324; Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register and City Directory [New York, 1822], 335).

Nack inherited a share of a small piece of ground between Broadway and Greenwich streets (William S. Pelletreau and John Keller, eds., Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate’s Office, City of New York [1893–1913], 9:190–1). He faced a similarly distressed situation when he was removed as lumber inspector in 1807, but he was reappointed the next year (New York Republican Watch-Tower, 26 May 1807; Albany Register, 8 Mar. 1808).

1Manuscript: “my my.”

2Manuscript: “the the.”

3Word written in margin.

Index Entries

  • charity; requests to TJ for search
  • Embargo Act (1807); M. Nack on search
  • Embargo Act (1807); support for search
  • Federalist party; in N.Y. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; loans requested of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • lumber trade search
  • Nack, James Madison search
  • Nack, Matthias; identified search
  • Nack, Matthias; letters from search
  • Nack, Matthias; seeks loan from TJ search
  • Nack, Rinier search
  • Nack, Sarah search
  • New York (city); Federalists in search
  • New York (city); Republicans in search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Republican party; in N.Y. search