Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Bringhurst to Thomas Jefferson, 2 May 1816

From Joseph Bringhurst

Wilmington Del: 5 Mo 2d 1816

Esteemed & beloved frd

The Wife of our mutual friend Isaac Briggs called on me yesterday to consult me respecting thy favour of the 17th ultimo to her husband. She dessired me to inform thee of the absence of her husband as an apology for the delay of a reply. Isaac has been obliged to attend Congress the greater part of the session for the purpose of obtaining a law for the settlement of his publick account—After some consideration it was postponed till the next meeting of the National Legislature. Our frd thought it necessary to go immediately to W. City to obtain a Stay of the legal proceedings & he is yet there. When he shall return I have no doubt he [will]1 reply to thy favour. I hope he will accept thy proposition as I do not, at present, see any prospect of a preferable employment. I have known2 Isaac from his youth & have always loved & esteemed him. There are several others here who are deeply interested in his welfare. He has3 a Wife of uncommon moral excellence, & children possessing many valuable qualities for whom Jacob Alrichs & I have been exceedingly anxious. Dear Isaac, with all his extraordinary qualifications for usefulness, has not prosperd in his pecuniary concerns, & we have apprehended that the present [state]4 of manufactures & commerce5 would prevent him from obtaining suitable employment for the support of his family. We [are]6 therefore earnistly solicitous that he should accept thy kind aid in procuring the station proposed by thee—We hope the salary will support his family in a humble mode of life—   Permit me to embrace this opportunity of telling thee how much thy character & services in Publick have been esteemed by several friends here—Cyrus Newlin. Jacob Alrichs. Wm Poole. John Reynold[s] & Isaac Starr—all men who [thou]7 wouldst love & esteem on personal knowledge, have often united with me in speaking, with approbation, of thy8 publick services, & I am add9 we all feel a very strong & tender interest in thy personal welfare—We are not men of the world—we mean what we say & thou mayst believe me to be with prayers for thy eternal happiness

thy sincere frd

Joseph Bringhurst

RC (MHi); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 9 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL.

Joseph Bringhurst (1767–1834), apothecary and public official, was a native of Philadelphia and a member of the Society of Friends. In 1793 he settled in Wilmington, Delaware, where he resided until his death. Bringhurst operated a drugstore on Market Street, and by 1822 he owned a cotton factory. He served as clerk of the borough, 1799–1800, and he was chairman of the Library Company of Wilmington in 1828. Bringhurst became postmaster of Wilmington during TJ’s presidency in 1802 and held this position until his removal from office in 1820. His scientific publications included “Facts concerning the Efficacy of Alkalies in Diseases of the Alimentary Canal,” Medical Repository 5 (1802): 413–5, and “On Officinal Tinctures,” Journal of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy 5 (1833): 19–20. Bringhurst was the author of a series of poems published under the pen name of “Birtha” in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States between 23 Mar. and 6 July 1791, and he reputedly wrote a 1796 letter later published as a Copy of a Letter from a Young Man, a Quaker, in Pennsylvania, to the late William Cowper, the Poet (Chester, Eng., 1800) (Josiah Granville Leach, History of the Bringhurst Family [1901], 39–41; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware. 1609–1888 [1888], 2:637, 650, 652, 660, 886; Charles E. Bennett, “A Poetical Correspondence Among Elihu Hubbard Smith, Joseph Bringhurst, Jr., and Charles Brockden Brown in The Gazette of the United States,” Early American Literature 12 [1977/78]: 277–85; Philadelphia Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, 29 Aug. 1800; Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States, 1782–1811 [1994], 106; Bringhurst to TJ, 8 July 1803 [DLC]; A Directory, and Register for the Year 1814 … of the Borough of Wilmington, and Brandywine [Wilmington, 1813?], 12; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 19 June 1820; Wilmington Delaware Patriot and American Watchman, 4 Apr. 1828; gravestone inscription in cemetery of Wilmington Friends Meeting House).

1Omitted word editorially supplied.

2Manuscript: “know.”

3Reworked from “had.”

4Omitted word editorially supplied.

5Manuscript: “commercee,” reworked from “commence.”

6Omitted word editorially supplied.

7Omitted word editorially supplied.

8Manuscript: “the.”

9Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • Alrichs, Jacob; mentioned search
  • Briggs, Hannah (Isaac Briggs’s wife); consults J. Bringhurst search
  • Briggs, Hannah (Isaac Briggs’s wife); sends message to TJ search
  • Briggs, Isaac; family of search
  • Briggs, Isaac; petitions Congress search
  • Briggs, Isaac; proposed as surveyor of Va. search
  • Briggs, Isaac; recommended by J. Bringhurst search
  • Bringhurst, Joseph; identified search
  • Bringhurst, Joseph; letter from search
  • Bringhurst, Joseph; recommends I. Briggs search
  • Congress, U.S.; petitions to search
  • Newlin, Cyrus search
  • Poole, William search
  • Reynolds, John search
  • Starr, Isaac H. search