Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Paine McMahon to Thomas Jefferson, 24 March 1813

From Thomas Paine McMahon

Phila March 24th 1813.


I take the liberty [of]1 addressing you on a request which I hope you will be kind enough to comply with.

I am [the?]2 son of Bernard McMahon of this city and Wish to get an appointment in the Navy or Army of the United States.

Knowing that you were good enough to corresspond With my father, I thought you would be so good as to give me a few lines of reccommendation to the secratary of the department you think I had better apply to.

I would prefer the Navy as I have been in the seafaring line before and have been to the East and West Inidies and several places in3 south America. But I have been informed by Saml Carswell Esqr of this place that he thought it would be useless to apply to the Navy Department, as there were so many applicants that there would be no probability of success: If so I would wish to get an appointment in the Army, and would prefer the peace Establishment, if there were any Vacancies.

Now is the time for those who are for their Country to come forward and support it; and I wish to be enrolled among the deffenders of their country and their Countries rights. I trust Sir, you will beleive me to be a republican in principal and practice, and rest assured that if you should think proper to grant my request, that I will neglect nothing on my part to prove myself deserving of your kindness. I am a young man about 22 years of age 6 feet high and I believe my Education is such as to quallify me for either the Army or Navy.

I hope Sir, you will be so good as to do me the honor of Writing to me at My fathers No 39 South second st. As soon as it may be conveinent to you, and you will much Oblige Sir Yours &c.

With the greatest respect

Th: Paine McMahon.

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of text: “Th: Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Mar. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

Thomas Paine McMahon (ca. 1791–1831) was born in Ireland before his father, the plant nurseryman Bernard McMahon, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1796. He was commissioned a third lieutenant in the 16th Infantry Regiment, United States Army, on 19 Apr. 1813. Promoted to second and first lieutenant effective 19 May 1813 and 1 Jan. 1814, respectively, he served as regimental quartermaster from May 1814 until his honorable discharge on 15 June 1815. McMahon was reinstated on 17 May 1816 as a second lieutenant with brevet rank of first lieutenant and resigned on 18 Apr. 1818. In 1819 and 1820 he published new editions of his father’s book, The American Gardener’s Calendar. McMahon was admitted to the Philadelphia bar on 29 July 1825 and was a notary public by 1827 (Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:676; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:364, 380, 410, 435, 488, 503, 3:55, 62, 136 [18 June, 1, 28 July, 1 Aug. 1813, 17 Feb., 4 Mar. 1814, 10, 17 Dec. 1816, 17 Apr. 1818]; Baltimore American Farmer, 31 Dec. 1819; John Hill Martin, Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia [1883], 291; McMahon to Stephen Girard, 13 July 1827 [PPGi: Girard Papers; PPAmP microfilm]; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 30 Aug. 1831).

1Omitted word editorially supplied.

2Omitted word editorially supplied.

3Preceding three words interlined in place of “North and.”

Index Entries

  • Carswell, Samuel; and appointments to Navy Department search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • McMahon, Bernard; mentioned search
  • McMahon, Thomas Paine; identified search
  • McMahon, Thomas Paine; letters from search
  • McMahon, Thomas Paine; seeks recommendation from TJ search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search