Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Lewis Cass, 31 May 1821

To Lewis Cass

Monticello May 31. 21.

Dear Sir

Mr Alexander Garrett of Charlottesville, my neighbor a[nd par]ticular1 friend, informs me that he has a sister, mrs Davenport, living in Detroit, and lately become a widow by the death of her husband m[r] Samuel T. Davenport. apprehensive she may need assistance, but n[ot] knowing to what amount, nor thro’ what channel he can administe[r] it, he has requested me to avail him of any acquaintance I might2 hav[e] to convey relief to mrs Davenport. I do not however recollect any personal acquaintance of mine living there, nor have I that honor wit[h] yourself. but there is, I trust, between us an acquaintance of character which may perhaps be made instrumental in doing a kind thing. on th[is] ground I take the liberty of requesting you to assure, on the faith of th[is] letter, any merchant or other person, who may have occasion to place money in either of the seaport towns of Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia or New York, that mrs Davenport’s bill on mr Garrett, for any sum within her necessities, payable in either of the places above named on so many days notice as may suffice for the remittance by mail from this place to that of payment, will be punctually honored: and if my name would add to confidence in the bill, it may be drawn on me equally as on mr Garrett, and I pledge myself for it’s punctual payment. while the bill is going to the person in whose favor it is draw[n] it would be well to address a letter of advice and notice to mr Garrett or myself at this place, countersigned by mrs Davenport or yourself to guard against imposition by the interception of this letter in it’s passage to you. confident that the object will excuse me with you, I salute you with assurances of high consideration and esteem.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of David Hosack to TJ, 28 Apr. 1821; edge trimmed; at foot of text: “H. E. Governor Cass”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosed in TJ to Alexander Garrett, 31 May 1821.

Lewis Cass (1782–1866), soldier and public official, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, and attended the Phillips Exeter Academy. He read law in Zanesville, Ohio, and in 1806 was elected to the Ohio state legislature. TJ appointed him federal marshal for Ohio in 1807. Cass served in the United States Army during the War of 1812, seeing active duty on the northern frontier and attaining the rank of brigadier general. In 1813 President James Madison appointed him governor of Michigan Territory. Cass became a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1826. He gave up his gubernatorial position when President Andrew Jackson appointed him secretary of war in 1831. In that role Cass also supervised Indian affairs and internal improvements. He left the cabinet to become United States envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to France, serving from 1836 until his strident Anglophobia contributed to his resignation in 1842. On his return to Detroit, Cass entered Democratic party politics as a strong advocate of expansionism. Failing in attempts to secure the party’s presidential nomination in 1844 and 1852, as its unsuccessful nominee in 1848 he supported nationalism, popular sovereignty, limited federal government, and compromises over slavery. Cass was a United States senator from Michigan, 1845–48 and 1849–57. His final public office was secretary of state under James Buchanan from 1857 until he resigned late in 1860 over the president’s failure to reinforce federal forts after secession. Cass died in Detroit (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Willard Carl Klunder, Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation [1996]; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:54, 464, 472, 4:565, 566, 6:175, 10:224, 11:239 [2 Mar. 1807, 31 Jan., 11 Feb. 1814, 29 June 1836, 27 Feb. 1843, 6 Mar. 1857, 17 Dec. 1860]; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:289; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 20 Oct. 1826 [MS in PPAmP]; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 21:494, 501 [7, 30 Dec. 1831]; New York Herald, 18 June 1866).

1Preceding two words faint.

2Manuscript: “migh.”

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Cass, Lewis; and aid for S. T. Davenport family search
  • Cass, Lewis; identified search
  • Cass, Lewis; letter to search
  • charity; donations to families in need search
  • Davenport, Samuel T.; death of search
  • Davenport, Susan Garrett (Samuel T. Davenport’s wife); aid for search
  • Garrett, Alexander; family of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search