Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas L. McKenney to Thomas Jefferson, 26 June 1822

From Thomas L. McKenney

Weston-Heights of Geo: Town DC1 June 26. 1822

Tho L McKenney to Tho Jefferson—greeting—& begs leave to present him with a prospectus of the “Washington Republican & Congressional Examiner,” and to assure Mr Jefferson of his veneration for him.—Tho L McKenney begs leave to add his best wishes for Mr Jefferson’s happiness, present & future.—

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); endorsed by TJ as received 1 July 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Thomas Loraine McKenney (1785–1859), public official, was a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He moved in 1809 to Georgetown, District of Columbia, where he operated a dry-goods store. After seeing action as a militia officer during the War of 1812, McKenney served as superintendent of Indian trade, 1816–22, and as a director of the Bank of Columbia in 1819. He owned three slaves in 1820. In 1822 McKenney founded the Washington Republican and Congressional Examiner to promote Secretary of War John C. Calhoun’s presidential aspirations. Although McKenney gave up editorial control of the paper a year later, Calhoun rewarded his efforts by appointing him superintendent of Indian affairs in 1824. Having previously helped to craft the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, prior to his dismissal from this post in 1830 McKenney advocated for the Indian Removal Act of the latter year and assembled an extensive collection of Indian artifacts, books, manuscripts, and portraits. This body of material eventually made its way into the Smithsonian Institution, although an 1865 fire destroyed the portraits. McKenney’s published works include Sketches of a Tour of the Lakes (1827), History of the Indian Tribes of North America, 3 vols. (1836–44), and Memoirs, Official and Personal (1846; repr. 1973). He was living in poverty in a boardinghouse when he died of typhoid fever in Brooklyn, New York (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 ; Herman J. Viola, Thomas L. McKenney, Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816–1830 [1974]; City of Washington Gazette, 29 Mar. 1819; Georgetown Metropolitan, 28 Mar. 1820; DNA: RG 29, CS, D.C., 1820; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 13 Aug. 1822; Boston Daily Advertiser, 7 June 1823; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 14 May 1827, 8 Mar. 1859; Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 11 vols. description ends ; Washington Daily National Journal, 26 Aug. 1830; New York Evening Post, 21 Feb. 1859).

1Abbreviation interlined.

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