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Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) to Alexander J. Dallas

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02718 Author/Creator: Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) Place Written: Monticello, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 7 December 1814 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 26 x 21 cm.

Summary of Content: Congratulates him on his nomination as Secretary of the Treasury. Comments that the post " ... is the most arduous now in our government, and is that on which every other depends for it's motion." Recommends the appointment of Peter Minor as assessor to collect land tax for Jefferson's district. Criticizes another contender, Mr. Armstead as "the weakest & laziest man that could be found."

Full Transcript: Monticello Dec.7.14
Dear Sir,
I tender my sincere congratulations on the occasion of your counsel and services being engaged for the public, and trust they will feel their benefit. The [...struck] [insert: department] to which you are called is the most arduous now in our government, and is that on which every other depends for it's motion. Were our commerce open, no degree of contribution would be felt; but shut up as it is the call on the people for taxes is truly a call for bricks without straw: in this state especially where we are feeding our horses with wheat as the cheapest forage; 50 cents being it's price this the middle country.
On the adoption of the land tax of the last year, an office assessor was established in every district, with power to determine what every land owner should pay, by his own judgement & without appeal. This important power could not fail to interest us highly in the choice of the person vested with it. On a consultation with most of the principal persons in our quarter, there was but one opinion as to the fittest man in out district, all agreed in that in the hands of a mr Peter Minor they could be safe, his ability, his judgement & independence being a sufficient security. I took the liberty therefore of writing to the President and to mr Cambell recommending this appointment. We were told soon after that it had been given to a mr Armstead of a neighboring county. This was given out by himself and mr Garlend (formerly a member of Congress) whose protegé Armstead is. The assumption of the land tax by the state prevented further interest in the case. We now learn he had not the appointment and is now going on for it. If there be a better man than Minor we wish his appointment, but as to mr Armstead all agree he is the weakest & laziest man that could be found. Some believe him honest, otherwise very openly deny it. Of his character however I know nothing personally, stating what I do from the information of others. Colo. Monroe, I think, knows Minor personally, & the President knows his family, it's standing & character. He is nephew to Genl. Minor of Fredericksburg. The Collector being of this county (Albemarle) [2] the principle of distribution might be supposed to require the Assessor from a different one. This principle may weigh between candidates of equal merit but it cannot make the worse the better man, nor remedy the evil of an incorrect agent. The importance of this appointment towards a just apportionment of the public burthens & one which will probably be permanent, will I hope excuse my expressing to the government my own sense of it, and that of the most respectable persons of our quarter, with an assurance nevertheless of our entire confidence that whatever appointment the government shall make will be founded in the best motives and I avail myself of this occasion of assuring you of my great esteem & respect.

See More

People: Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
Dallas, Alexander James, 1759-1817

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentVice PresidentLetter of Introduction or RecommendationTaxes or TaxationFinanceMorality and EthicsGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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