Thomas Jefferson Papers

Mark Langdon Hill to Thomas Jefferson, 28 March 1820

From Mark Langdon Hill

Washington 28th March 1820.


Altho I have never been honored by a personal acquaintance with you, yet I recollect your political course for more than twenty years, having been induced to take a strong interest in whatever related to it, from one circumstance among many others, of my having been nearly related to the late Governor Langdon of New Hampshire, who always entertained the most cordial friendship for you, as appeared uniformly by his actions & declarations.

That this friendship was in some degree reciprocal appears by a letter you wrote him in March 5th 1810. which he put into my hands several years ago, with some other articles connected with his political life, and which I keep as a precious memento, of those who acted such a conspicuous part in obtaining our Independence, & in maintai[n]ing of it since.

The letter referred to adverts to the differen[t] Systems of politicks prevailing in this Country at that time, and their several tendencies—Our connexion with the European States, the character of its Sovreigns, and the tendency of all Monarchical Governments.

I shew it to many while I was in the Senate of Massachusetts from Maine, struggling against the Majority during the late war, & to members of both Houses of Congress since I have been in this City, but have never permitted a copy to be taken by any person excepting President Monroe, wh[o] was highly delighted with its contents, and with whom I knew it was safe.

I hope you will give me permission to give it to the public at some proper time.

When I came to this City for the first time in December last, I intended myself the honor of paying my respects to you and Mr Madison, to have returned by the way of Norfolk & Williamsburg to see my old friend Col. Basset; but owing to the press of business and the length of the Session, I must at its conclusion, immediately return to my family in the new State of Maine, which is about organizing its Government, and putting at the head of it, Genl King, who visited you last winter, and with which visit, he was exceedingly delighted.

By my exertions with one of my Collegues Mr Holmes in putting at rest the Missouri question & the consequent admission of Maine, we have brought down upon ourselves the vengence of the remnant of a party, to which you allude in your letter to Mr Langdon, but they will not I hope be able to destroy us.

Of your welfare I often hear at the Presidents, and am glad to find your health is restored.

That your declining years may be as tranquil & happy, as the services you have rendered to your Country have been great & illustrious, is the ardent wish of

your most obedient huml Servt.

Mark Langdon Hill.

RC (DLC); edge chipped and trimmed; at foot of first page: “President Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Apr. 1820 and so recorded in SJL; with additional notation by TJ beneath signature relating to his response of 5 Apr. 1820: “my lre his visit Maine & Missour.”

Mark Langdon Hill (1772–1842), public official, was born in Biddeford in what was then the Maine district of Massachusetts. He eventually worked as a merchant and shipbuilder in Phippsburg, Maine. Hill served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1797–1808, 1810, 1813, and 1814, and in the state Senate, 1804 and 1815–17. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts beginning in 1819, and following Maine’s elevation to statehood in 1820 he returned to Congress the following term as a representative from Maine. Hill also served as a judge on the Massachusetts Common Court of Pleas in 1810, postmaster of Phippsburg, 1819–24, and customs collector for Bath in 1824. He was a member of the American Antiquarian Society and acted as one of its councillors, 1819–21. An overseer of Bowdoin College, 1796–21, and a trustee, 1821–42, Hill also served from 1821 to 1826 as a trustee of Waterville College (later Colby College). He died in Phippsburg (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present, online resource, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives description ends ; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 41:511–2; Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:55–7; DNA: RG 29, CS, Maine, Georgetown, 1800, 1810, Phippsburg, 1820–40; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:463, 466, 521, 3:390–1 [27 Jan., 1 Feb., 2 Apr. 1814, 27 May 1824]; Catalogue of the Officers and Members of the American Antiquarian Society [1855], 4, 12; General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine: A Biographical Record of Alumni and Officers, 1794–1950 [1950], 10; General Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Colby University, Waterville, Maine, 1820–1882 [1882], 4; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 3 Dec. 1842; New-York Spectator, 7 Dec. 1842; gravestone inscription in Hill Family Burying Ground, Phippsburg).

Hill and John holmes, his fellow Massachusetts representative from the District of Maine, supported the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but otherwise prohibited slavery north of the 36° 30′ line of latitude in land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. After an initial vote in the House of Representatives on 29 Feb. 1820 would have prohibited slavery in Missouri, Holmes was named to a conference committee to find agreement between the House and Senate on the issue. It recommended the compromise ultimately adopted (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 13:259–64, 269–70, 274–9 [29 Feb., 1, 2 Mar. 1820]; Noble E. Cunningham Jr., ed., Circular Letters of Congressmen to Their Constituents, 1789–1829 [1978], 3:1101–4).

Index Entries

  • Bassett, Burwell; friendship with M. L. Hill search
  • Congress, U.S.; and Missouri question search
  • Hill, Mark Langdon; and Missouri question search
  • Hill, Mark Langdon; and TJ’s correspondence search
  • Hill, Mark Langdon; identified search
  • Hill, Mark Langdon; letters from search
  • Holmes, John; and Missouri question search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • King, William (of Maine); as governor of Maine search
  • King, William (of Maine); visits Monticello search
  • Langdon, John; correspondence with TJ search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); visitors to search
  • Maine; and Missouri question search
  • Maine; and statehood search
  • Missouri question; and J. Holmes search
  • Missouri question; congressional consideration of search
  • Monroe, James; and TJ’s correspondence search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; King, William (of Maine) search
  • President’s House; mentioned search