James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Francis Armstrong, 21 April 1813

From James Francis Armstrong

Trenton, N.J. April 21. 1813


An old revolutionary acquaintance begs leave to solicit your attention for a moment, from occupations of high national importance, to an application which will be brought before you by the Secretary of State.1 If it is in itself impracticable—or imcompatible with the views of administration, to do any thing for myself, by giving me some office which I may be able to execute, I shall submit, conscious that no man ever served his country more faithfully & fervently, til severe & unconquerable complaints brought on in its service, rendered me incapable of performing the duties of the clerical character, which I would prefer to any other in the world. With due respect & consideration—I am your humble & obedient servant

James F. Armstrong2

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Armstrong, James F.”).

1Armstrong wrote to James Monroe on 21 Apr. 1813 asking to be appointed to “some office which might still be executed” in the “state of infirmity” he had suffered for seventeen years due to a “rheumatic complaint” contracted during his service with the Continental Army. He recalled that he had lost out to Benjamin Rush in a previous application for the position of treasurer of the mint and suggested that the duties of that office, now vacant due to Rush’s death, would be within his capabilities. Alternatively, he could serve as commissioner of loans for New Jersey. Declaring that financial adversity had driven him to make this application, Armstrong reminded Monroe of their acquaintance during the Revolutionary War and requested the Secretary of State’s patronage (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Armstrong, James F.”).

2James Francis Armstrong (1750–1816) attended the College of New Jersey, where he, like JM, joined the American Whig Society. After taking his degree in 1773, Armstrong trained for the ministry and in 1778 was appointed a chaplain in the Continental Army. He served in the southern campaigns under Horatio Gates and Nathanael Greene. After leaving the army in 1782, he became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Trenton, which position he held until his death (Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775, 161, 263–65).

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