Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Martin Baker to Thomas Jefferson, 18 February 1818

From John Martin Baker

George-Town, February 18th 1818.


I pray your Goodness to forgive, my being importune; Mr Lee, having particularly recommended me, to apply to The President, by letter, for the Consulate of Tunis, which he informed me was vacant; I had the Honor to address The President, on the thirtieth ultimo: Copy of which letter, I take the liberty Sir, to enclose: with the Copy of a letter, written me by Commodore John Shaw, (now in this City) which last, I exhibited, To the Honorable John Quincy Adams Secretary of State, on the Sixteenth instant, when soliciting of the Secretary, said appointment, and left it with him, by his desire: Mr Adams, was pleased to say to me, that he would mention my application to The President.—

Commodore Shaw, informs me, that The Consul of Tunis, Mr Anderson, had left Tunis: and that Mr Shayler, Consul General at Algiers, had sent on the chaplain of the United States, Ship Washington, to Tunis, to act pro-tem: (from Gibraltar, by the via of Marseilles.)

The French Minister, Le Sieur Hyde de Nieuville, has been so kind as to mention me, To The President, (on Wednesday Evening last) on the part particular of The Dutchess of Orleans, who has been pleased to take interest in the welfare of our family; and he will do the same with The Secretary of State, on their next meeting. I now Entreat you Sir, to have the feeling kindness to oblige me with a letter Recommending me to The President, for the Consulate of Tunis: which will prove a comfortable Support for my family, and for my Aged, infirm Mother in Law, who is with us;1 (Mrs Elizabeth Weissenfels, widow of the Late Coll Frederick Weissenfels, of the Revolutionary Army) and enable me to Educate my Youngest two Daughters, and two Sons: the Youngest Louis, Jean, Marie, in his fifth Year; My own, and families future Happiness depends on your Benevolent feeling: and Mr Madisons, for me. The President, was pleased to say to me, soon after his late return, that I should have your kind Recommendation for any place, that I would learn to be vacant, and that He was disposed to Serve me. With lasting Gratitude, and Sincere Prayers for your Health and Happiness.

I have the Honor to Be

With High Respect Sir, Your Faithful, Obedient, Humble Servant—

John Martin Baker.

I intended writing to Mr Madison, to solicit the favor of a letter to Mr Adams; but just before closeing this letter, I hear from Mr Lee, that Mr Madison’s, Venerable Estimable Mother, was dangerously ill, the effects of a fall, and at such a painful moment, I dare not intrude on Mr Madison’s Goodness.—

RC (MHi); adjacent to closing and signature: “To The Honourable Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 26 Feb. 1818, but recorded in SJL as received a day earlier. Enclosures: (1) Baker to James Monroe, Washington, 30 Jan. 1818, requesting an appointment as United States consul at either Tunis or Tripoli; stating that his “long Residence in the Mediterranean,” service as a consul since 1803, “frequent intercourse with African Natives,” familiarity with their manners and conventions, and working knowledge of French, Italian, Spanish, and the “Language in use by the chiefs, and Tradeing Inhabitants of the Coast of Barbary” all make him a suitable candidate (Tr in MHi; in Baker’s hand and signed by him; at head of text: “Copy”; at foot of text: “To The President, of the United States. Washington”; endorsed by Baker). (2) Shaw to Baker, Washington, 14 Feb. 1818, certifying and expressing his gratitude that Baker worked assiduously to establish a depot at Port Mahon for Shaw’s naval squadron (Tr in MHi; entirely in Baker’s hand; at head of text: “Copy”; endorsed by Baker, in part, as a “Copy of Commodore John Shaw’s letter, to J. M. Baker”).

The chaplain of the USS Washington was Charles Folsom (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ). le sieur: “Mister.”

1Preceding four words interlined, with the caret mistakenly placed in front of the comma.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; and appointments search
  • Anderson, Thomas Dixon; consul at Tunis search
  • Baker, John Martin; family of search
  • Baker, John Martin; letters from search
  • Baker, John Martin; seeks appointment search
  • Baker, Louis Jean Marie search
  • Folsom, Charles search
  • Hyde de Neuville, Jean Guillaume; as French ambassador to U.S. search
  • Lee, William (1772–1840); and J. M. Baker search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and J. M. Baker search
  • Madison, Nelly Conway (James Madison’s mother); health of search
  • Maria Amalia Teresa, duchesse d’Orléans search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • Shaler, William; as consul general at Algiers search
  • Shaw, John (1773–1823); and J. M. Baker search
  • Tripoli; U.S. consul at search
  • Tunis; U.S. consul at search
  • Washington, USS search
  • Weissenfels, Elizabeth Williams Bogart; family of search
  • Weissenfels, Frederick, baron de; family of search