Thomas Jefferson Papers

Donald Fraser to Thomas Jefferson, 23 June 1812

From Donald Fraser

New York June 23d 1812


With great luctance I am once more compelled to trespass upon Your time, & retirement:—But, as the tender Ivy, when boreas blows, entwines the Sturdy Oak, for Support, So, poor literary Wights, like myself, must, occasionally, look up to their Superiors, in Station, wealth & talents, for Some countenance: I need not inform, the author of “notes on Virginia,” that, in the best days of Greece & Rome; hoary-headed Instructors of Youth were countenanced by the Rulers, which, is my apology for the, Seemingly, impertinent application to you at present.

have now ready for the Press, a couple of works; which, I trust, may have Some tendency to promote the interest of the community; by the Sale of which, I may clear a few hundred dollars.

Having, in the course of the last two Years, lost, by Robbery & mis-placed confidence, nearly the fruits of a whole life of industry; I am now, at nearly 60 Years of age, reduced to indigence!

I have therefore, been advised by my friends, to Solicit the President of the U. States, heads of Departments, & other respectable characters, in the Republican-ranks, to aid me with the loan of Small Sums, to enable me to publish my works: The worthy President, Governor Danl D. Tompkins & others, have complied Benevolently with request.—Permit me to request you to favor me with the loan of Twenty dollars? which I Shall embrace the first opportunity to repay with due Gratitude—Should you think proper to aid me, May the Unerring Ruler of the Universe, who delights in Beneficent actions, reward you.—

I have the honor to be, with great respect Sir, your Obt & very humble Servant;

D. Fraser

P.S. The Collector of this port, cannot, at present Grant me the office of Inspector.

Since, the infatuated & corrupt Government of Great Briton, has compelled us to “Cross the Rubicon;1 I trust, that, if when not 3 Millions of population we drove her mermidons from our Shores, we Shall now, when nearly 8 Millions, enforce her to do us justice: Even, on her owen element, we have young Paul Jones’ enough to defend Our flag.

RC (MHi); between dateline and salutation: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

In a similar letter of 12 June 1812 to James Madison, Fraser asked for $25 and identified the couple of works he hoped to publish as The Bulwark of Truth and Remarks on the Times (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., 6 vols.  Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 4:476). He had already published A Collection of Select Biography: or, the Bulwark of Truth (New York, 1798) and Party-Spirit Exposed, or Remarks on the Times: to which is added Some Important Hints to the Ladies (New York, 1799). Fraser may have intended second editions of these works, but evidently neither was ever published. He had succeeded in borrowing twenty dollars from John Jay, who heard shortly afterward that Fraser was “a little insane” (Jay to Fraser, 10 Feb. 1812, and Peter Augustus Jay to Jay, 21 Feb. 1812 [NNC: Jay Papers]). He had sought the position of federal customs inspector from New York collector David Gelston (Fraser to TJ, [ca. 10 Mar. 1812]).

1Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • A Collection of Select Biography (Fraser) search
  • Fraser, Donald; A Collection of Select Biography search
  • Fraser, Donald; asks TJ for loan search
  • Fraser, Donald; letters from search
  • Fraser, Donald; Remarks on the Times search
  • Fraser, Donald; seeks appointment search
  • Fraser, Donald; The Bulwark of Truth search
  • Gelston, David; collector at New York search
  • Jay, John; and D. Fraser search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; loans requested of search
  • Madison, James; and D. Fraser’s request for loan search
  • Remarks on the Times (Fraser) search
  • The Bulwark of Truth (Fraser) search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; governor of N.Y. search
  • War of1812; support for search