From James Monroe
Oak hill Loudoun near Aldie Sepr 10. 1819.
I receiv’d at Washington your letters respecting Mr. Lehre, Mr R. B. Lee & Mr Scott,1 and in consequence of the pressure of business there, declind answering them, untill after my arrival here.
I had made up my opinion while in So. Car: in favor of Mr Pringle,2 who is a republican, President of the State Senate, and without being a very popular man, respected by all. The opposing candidates were Mr Hunt3 & Mr Lehre. The first mention’d is an Englishman, natura[li]sed some 14. or 15. years since, represented to have been a federalist in his outset, to have married a sister of Mr Gaillard,4 & to have afterwards become a republican, of so great zeal as to merit a check from his friends. He has a large family & was supported by Govr Geddes, Mr Ths. Pinckney,5 the Mr Gaillards, & perhaps a majority of the merchants in Charlestown. I had however satisfactory reason to believe, that his nomination would not have been agreeable to the State, but rather offensive. Mr Lehre on the whole stands well. The only fact alledged against him, that I heard of, was, that being chargd with the estate of some orphans, his relations as I presume, a judgment was obtained against him by them, which then affected his credit. Extenuating circumstances were nevertheless urgd in his favor, & such had been his general conduct since, & the confidence reposed in him, public & private, that that charge seemd to merit no great attention. Against Mr Pringle, nothing was said, while all spoke well of him, except, those in opposition, on the late occasion. Much clamour will doubtless be heard against his appointment, great part of which will proceed from the rival candidates and their friends, who it is probable, each, would have made more if the other had been preferrd.
A case has lately occurrd in Alexa., which will give even more trouble, & probably excite more clamour, let it be decided as it may, I refer to the vacancy created by the death of the Collector, Col Simms.6 His son is a Candidate, & is supported by a memorial signd by almost all the town, without distinction of parties. The distress of the family is representd as likely to be extreme, if the office is not given to him. The most respectable republicans, on the other hand, are rival candidates, among whom are, Genl Thompson Mason,7 George Taylor8 & Dr. Peake,9 who have presented recommendations, from the republicans, since the simpathy of the moment subsided. The violence of the father in opposition to the govt. in which the son is said to have participated, is objectd to him. The objection to a succession in office, of the son to the father, obviously occurs, and which merits particular attention. It is said that a case occurr’d in Alexa., fixing a precedent against such succession, on the death of Col: Gilpin,10 by rejecting the claim of his son, a republican of merit, seeking a provision for a family equally numerous with that of Col: Simms, & equally distressd. I will thank you to communicate to me in confidence the circumstances of that case. Col: Gilpin held the post office.
On my arrival at Washington, I had not recoverd in any degree from the fatigue, & exhaustion, in which you saw me at your house. The pressure of business, at so hot a season, prevented it. As soon as I could escape, from the most interesting duties, I came here with my family, with intention to return there myself; if circumstances requird it, as they probably will more than once before the meeting of Congress. Our accomodation is limited, but sufficient for ourselves, and by being here, I shall promote the improvment of the estate, & thereby promote the ultimate object, as, I hope, of an advantageous sale, so indispensible, after the expences heretofore incurrd, & neglect in the managment of my affairs, to our comfort. With best respects and wishes for you⟨r⟩ own happiness & that of Mrs Madison from my family, I am dear Sir sincerely yr friend
2. James Reid Pringle (1782–1840) was a plantation owner and Charleston resident who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1808–13, and the state senate, 1814–19. Monroe appointed him collector of the port of Charleston in 1819, and he served in that post until his death (N. Louise Bailey et al., eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 2:1314–15).
3. Thomas Hunt (1772–1830) was a Bahamian-born plantation owner who represented Christ Church Parish in the South Carolina legislature, 1809–13, and 1830–31 (Edgar et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 4:299–300).
4. John Gaillard (1765–1826) was a plantation owner in St. Stephen Parish who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1794–95, and in the state senate, 1796–1804. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1804 to fill the unexpired term of Pierce Butler, and served in that capacity until 1827 (Bailey et al., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 1:539–40).
5. Thomas Pinckney (1750–1828) was a Revolutionary War veteran, governor of South Carolina, 1787–89, minister to Great Britain, 1792–96, a member of Congress, 1797–1801, and a major general in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 5:274 n. 6).
6. Charles Simms (1755–1819), a Revolutionary War veteran, was collector of the port of Alexandria, 1795–1819 (PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986—). description ends , 1:18 and n. 1; Mary G. Powell, The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia [Richmond, 1928], 259).
7. Thompson Mason (d. 1820) succeeded Charles Simms as collector of the port of Alexandria in 1819 (Daily National Intelligencer, 15 Mar. 1820).
8. George Taylor was an Alexandria merchant who occupied a dwelling on King Street (T. Michael Miller, Portrait of a Town: Alexandria, District of Columbia [Virginia], 1820–1830 [Bowie, Md., 1995], 350).
9. Humphrey Peake was sheriff of Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1809 and president of the Fauquier and Alexandria Turnpike Company in 1812. In 1820 he moved to Alexandria to practice medicine. That same year he was appointed collector of customs and served until his resignation in 1829 (T. Michael Miller, comp., Artisans and Merchants of Alexandria, Virginia, 1780–1820 [2 vols.; Bowie, Md., 1991–92], 2:25–26; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 3:205, 206, 369, 370, 587, 590–91; The Washington Whig, 27 June 1829).
10. George Gilpin (1741–1813) was an Alexandria merchant, an original director of the Potomac Company, and a colonel of the Fairfax County militia. He was postmaster at Alexandria from 1809 to 1813, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas Peters Gilpin (ca. 1787–1821), who held the office until October 1814 (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77, vols. 11–17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977–91). description ends , 11:357 n. 2; Franklin L. Brockett, The Lodge of Washington [Alexandria, Va., 1876], 112; Edith F. Axelson, comp., Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832 [Athens, Ga., 1991], 7; Daily National Intelligencer, 17 May 1821; Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington [6 vols.; Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79], 4:141 n.).