Thomas Jefferson Papers

Gideon Granger to Thomas Jefferson, 22 February 1814

From Gideon Granger

Washington City: Feb: 22: 1814

Dear Sir,

a state of things exists here which in all probability will in a few days force me to make a solemn appeal to the nation, in vindication of my character as a man, my conduct as an officer of Government, and the uniform tenor of my life in upholding those principles which brought you into power; accompanied by an explanation of the causes of the several denunciations which have been put forth against me, with proofs in my own justification

That unhappy affair of Hunt, by which I lost my rank while I saved others, must be explained to the world.

In addition to this, I have been denounced as a Burrite; but you know that in 1800 I sent Erving from Boston to inform Virginia of the danger resulting from his intrigues; that in 1803–4 on your advice I procured Erastus Granger to inform De Witt Clinton of the plan to elevate Burr in N. York; and that in 1806 I communicated, by the first mail after I had gained knowledge of the fact, the supposed plans of Burr in his western expedition; upon which communication your Council was first called together to take measures in relation to that subject.

You will also bear in mind the activity I displayed on that occasion; that I bridled the whole country to the West, the South, and the S. West, by investing certain distinguished citizens, by us agreed on, with the full transferrable powers of my office, to dismiss those who were justly doubted, and provide on all occasions of public emergency; that you requested me to appoint a confidential agent to pass from here to N. Orleans, secretly clothed with all the powers which by law I could confer on him, to expedite the mails, to correct all errors, to remove the disaffected and substitute others in their places; and that I replied there was no man but my brother Pease to whom I would confide my honour: And, Sir, you know that he went the journey, and his conduct to you was so acceptable, that you made him Surveyor General of the Southern District without any request of mine.

Sir, I have also been denounced and charged with siding with federalism, for the part I took in silencing the Common-law, sedition prosecutions in Connecticut; at the same time you know, Sir, that at your request I wrote the members justifying your conduct in returning the money in the Marshall’s hands to Callender, and in ordering Nolle Prosequis on all the prosecutions for sedition, on the principle that they were forbidden by the Constitution, and therefore were not lawful: That I had been useful in a case peculiarly interesting to your feelings, (which were not keener than mine are on the present occasion,) and that I silenced those prosecutions in conformity to your written request, in a manner which peculiarly exposed me to the censure of those republicans who had been my friends; while, by the respectful concessions of President Backus obtained by my management, I placed you on the vantage ground.

Though I possess the evidence which would incontrovertibly maintain most of these positions, yet I think to publish them at large could not be pleasing to you, and it would be distressing to me.

Under my present circumstances I have to propose, that in lieu of my giving a full developement of these things to the public by an elucidation of these subjects, that, if you please and deem it proper, you furnish me by letter with such materials as will not only forever silence calumny against me, but shew to my country that I have been useful on all these points, except the Hunt business where I cannot ask you to interfere

I pray you that it may be clear and explicit, not leaving a loophole whereby to hang a doubt, lest to solve that doubt I should be forced to a full explanation.

Sir, let me solicit your early reply.

Always your affectionate friend

Gidn Granger

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Granger; addressed by clerk: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr late President of the United States Monticello near Charlotteville—Albemarle Co. Virginia”; franked; postmarked Washington, 22 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Mar. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

When Federalist congressman Samuel hunt allegedly slandered Dolley Madison in 1804, Granger came to her defense. However, he declined Hunt’s challenge to a duel (Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison, 1941–61, 6 vols. description ends , 4:243, 6:244). For Granger’s role in exposing the intrigues of Aaron Burr, his contribution to silencing the common-law, sedition prosecutions in connecticut, TJ’s issuance of a pardon and refund of a fine to James T. callender, and Granger’s success in obtaining a softening by Rev. Azel backus of his verbal attack on TJ, see Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 4:211, 5:240–1, 385–91; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 33:157–8, 309–10; TJ to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 13 June 1809, and note.

Index Entries

  • Backus, Azel; criticizes TJ search
  • Burr, Aaron (1756–1836); alleged conspiracy of search
  • Burr, Aaron (1756–1836); western expeditions of search
  • Callender, James Thomson; and sedition law search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; and A. Burr conspiracy search
  • Connecticut; libel prosecutions in search
  • Erving, George William; and A. Burr conspiracy search
  • Granger, Erastus; and A. Burr conspiracy search
  • Granger, Gideon; and A. Burr conspiracy search
  • Granger, Gideon; and Conn. libel prosecution search
  • Granger, Gideon; as postmaster general search
  • Granger, Gideon; defends D. Madison search
  • Granger, Gideon; letters from search
  • Hunt, Samuel; and D. Madison search
  • Hunt, Samuel; dispute with G. Granger search
  • libel; prosecutions during TJ’s presidency search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); S. Hunt insults search
  • Pease, Seth; postal official search
  • Pease, Seth; TJ appoints as surveyor search