James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 25 October 1797

To Thomas Jefferson

Orange Octr. 25. 97.

Dear Sir

I am placed under circumstances which make it proper I should inform you that Mr. Knapp1 of Philada. is a candidate for the office of Treasr. to the Mint, vacated by the death of Dr. Way,2 and is particularly anxious that you should be possessed of that fact, and of the testimony I may be able to give as to his qualifications & character. During several of the last Winters I spent in Phida. Mr. K. was a near neighbour, and a familiar intercourse prevailed between our families. I really believe him to be a worthy man, & the line of life he has been in supports the character he bears, of being skilful in the sort of business he aspires to. If you should be invited by any opportunity to say as much to the quarter from which appts. issue, it will be highly acceptable to Mr. K. and ought to be so to me. I have however intimated to him, that I did not expect that your opinion in any way would be asked, & that it would not be proper for you to give it unasked. It is astonishing that it does not occur in these cases that the patronage of those whose politics are adverse to the politics of the administration is more likely to be of injury than service to the suitors for office.

We just have the pleasure of learning that an event has taken place in your family3 which calls for our joint & warmest congratulations, which we beg you to make acceptable to all to whom the⟨y⟩ are due. Yrs. truly

Js. M. Jr

RC (DLC). Addressed by JM to Jefferson at Monticello and marked “Col. Monroe.” Docketed by Jefferson, “recd. Oct. 27.”

1John Knapp had been a clerk in the office for settling accounts between the U.S. and the individual states in 1792 when he lived on Spruce Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, just around the corner from JM (121 South Fifth Street). In 1797 Knapp was second teller of the Bank of Pennsylvania. Disappointed in his hopes to be appointed treasurer of the Mint, he left Philadelphia and set up a lumber business in Washington, D.C., where he lived in “the house known as the Cottage above the Commissioner’s wharf.” A friend of the Thornton family and others who were acquainted with JM at the capital after 1801, Knapp was listed as a clerk in the comptroller’s office in 1816 (Knapp to JM, 9 July 1800; Stafford, Philadelphia Directory for 1797 [Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). description ends 32868], p. 106; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:59, 2:308; Knapp to John Adams, 6 Sept. 1797, and supporting letters [DNA: RG 59, Letters of Application and Recommendation, 1797–1801]; Worthington C. Ford, ed., “Diary of Mrs. William Thornton, 1800–1863,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 10 [1907]: 119–211; ibid., 22 [1919]: 142 and n. 11).

2Nicholas Way (ca. 1747–1797), a physician who practiced in Wilmington, Delaware, was treasurer of the U.S. Mint from 1794 until his death in the yellow fever epidemic of 1797. He was succeeded at the Mint by Dr. Benjamin Rush (Butterfield, Letters of Benjamin Rush, 2:789, 1209–12).

3Jefferson’s daughter Maria was married to John Wayles Eppes on 13 Oct. at Monticello (Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 3:238).

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