Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Paul Hamilton, 27 September 1812

To Paul Hamilton

Monticello. Sep. 27. 12.

Dear Sir

I am requested to introduce to you the bearer mr Henry L. Duffie of whom however I have no personal knolege, nor any information but thro’ the inclosed letter. the writer of it, mr Harrison of Lynchburg, is a merchant of that place, of reputation, and worthy of credit in whatever he states. knowing that certain elements of education are necessary to qualify a midshipman for his reception, I have questioned him on that head. his education has been entirely English, at an academy in his neighborhood where he has learnt the common arithmetic, vulgar & decimal fractions the extraction of the roots, and the first books of Euclid. of these things however you can satisfy yourself better by your own enquiries, praying you at the same time to accept the assurance of my high esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “The honble Mr Hamilton Secretary of the Navy”; endorsed by TJ.

Henry Leonard Duffel (Duffell; duffie) (1791–1866), a South Carolina native, moved with his family to New York and Fredericksburg before settling in Lynchburg, where he assisted his father in a mercantile business. He served briefly as a navy midshipman and even more briefly as a third lieutenant in the 12th Infantry Regiment, United States Army, before receving a third lieutenant’s commission in the 2d Artillery Regiment in 1813. Duffel was promoted to second lieutenant late the same year and discharged on 15 June 1815. He inherited a sizable estate in Lynchburg at his father’s death in 1835. Sometime in the 1850s Duffel moved to Ascension Parish, Louisiana, and died there at the home of his nephew Henry L. Duffel (1821–1906) (Family Records in the Duffel Bibles [1980], 1, 6; Elfer B. Miller, Duffel Family in America: the First Four Generations [1980], 15; Callahan, U.S. Navy description begins 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 description ends , 172 [commission allegedly dated 18 June 1812 and resigned 20 Apr. 1813]; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:386; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:481 [15 Dec. 1813]; Lynchburg City Will Book, B:149–51).

Samuel J. Harrison’s letter to TJ of 23 Sept. 1812, not found, is recorded in SJL as received from Lynchburg on 27 Sept. 1812, with TJ’s notation that it was delivered “(by mr Duffie).” In a letter to United States representative Matthew Clay, Washington, 26 Nov. 1812 (DNA: RG 45, MLRSN, with Clay’s supporting letter of the following day in same), Duffel stated that he was “very desirous of being immediately into actual service, or some prospect of soon obtaining a birth in one of the Frigates.” He asked Clay for “a line to the Secretary, explaining the views &c by which I am actuated & my wishes to have written orders to The Adams” or, if that ship had its full complement of officers, for “orders to some of the Northern Stations—as I am anxious to serve my country & impatienly await an opportunity to distinguish myself by the achievement of some brilliant action.”

Index Entries

  • Clay, Matthew search
  • Duffel (Duffell; Duffie), Henry Leonard; identified search
  • Duffel (Duffell; Duffie), Henry Leonard; seeks military position search
  • Hamilton, Paul (1762–1816); and patronage recommendations search
  • Hamilton, Paul (1762–1816); letters to search
  • Harrison, Samuel Jordan; letters from accounted for search
  • Harrison, Samuel Jordan; recommends H. L. Duffel search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search