Thomas Jefferson Papers

William J. Harris to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1811

From William J. Harris

Powhatan August 19. 1811.


I have the honour to transmit to you, the Enclosed letters which you advised me to get, and I am in hopes you will forward them on as soon as possible

I am with great and esteem1 Sir yours &c

William J. Harris

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Sept. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Thomas Turpin to [John Wayles Eppes and William B. Giles], Powhatan, 9 July 1811, recommending Harris, a distant relation he has known from birth as “a young Gentleman of good character and respectable connexions”; mentioning Harris’s father’s Revolutionary War service; and asking for help in getting the younger Harris a naval appointment. (2) Philip Turpin to [Eppes and Giles], Salisbury, 13 July 1811, recommending Harris, whom he has known from infancy and regards as “a young gentleman of merit and respectability.” (3) James Pleasants to John Wayles Eppes, Goochland County, 22 July 1811, recommending Harris, whom he has known from infancy, and commenting on “his general good character” and the respectability of his parents and relations. (4) Eppes to Paul Hamilton, Buckingham, 7 Aug. 1811, enclosing nos. 1–2, also mentioning a supportive letter by Pleasants and indicating that he does not know Harris, but describing his relations favorably and advising his appointment as a midshipman. (5) Giles to Hamilton, Wigwam, 7 Aug. 1811, enclosing nos. 1–3 and indicating that he does not know Harris but emphasizing the good character of his father, relatives, and those recommending him (two RCs of nos. 1–2 and one of nos. 3–5 in DNA: RG 45, MLRSN).

William Jordan Harris (b. 1791), the great-grandson of TJ’s aunt Mary Jefferson Turpin, was appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy on 1 Sept. 1811 but resigned his commission later that year for health reasons (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends 38 [1930]: 178; William D. Ligon Jr., The Ligon Family and Connections [1947], 846–7; Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 [1901; repr. 1969], 249; Harris to Hamilton, 12 Dec. 1811 [DNA: RG 45, MLRSN]).

1Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); recommends W. J. Harris search
  • Giles, William Branch; recommends W. J. Harris search
  • Hamilton, Paul (1762–1816); and commission for W. J. Harris search
  • Harris, Jordan; Revolutionary War officer search
  • Harris, William Jordan; identified search
  • Harris, William Jordan; letters from search
  • Harris, William Jordan; seeks naval commission search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; applications to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Pleasants, James; recommends W. J. Harris search
  • Turpin, Philip; recommends W. J. Harris search
  • Turpin, Thomas; recommends W. J. Harris search