JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th:Jefferson") to William Pinkney, Monticello, [VA], 5 August 1809. 1 page, 4to, browning on edges, separations at fold affecting signature, three small holes affecting 4 letters of text.
JEFFERSON COMPLIMENTS FEDERALIST WILLIAM PINKNEY, "EXPRESSING TO YOU MY GREAT ESTEEM FOR YOU PERSONALLY"
Writing only five months after leaving the presidency, Jefferson addresses a letter to William Pinkney (misspelling his name as Pinckney), Minister to Great Britain. Jefferson introduces both Alexander McRae and Major John Clarke to Pinkney, noting that McRae is "a lawyer of distinction, has been a member of the council of state of Virginia & Lieut. Governor, highly esteemed for his talents & correctness of principle moral & political." Jefferson recommends Clarke who "was long also in public employ as Director of the Armourry [sic] of this state, recommended as such by his great mechanical ingenuity & personal worth." Jefferson expresses hope that Pinkney will be able to accomodate them with good offices but identifies a mutual benefit, "their knolege [sic] of the present state of our affairs may enable them to add acceptably to your information." United States relations with Great Britain were strained in 1809.
Jefferson concludes with praise for Pinkney, an appointee for whom he had taken extensive criticism because of his Federalist loyalties: "I am happy in an occasion of expressing to you my great esteem for you personally, and the satisfaction with which I noted the correctness, both as to matter & manner, with which you discharged the public duties you were so kind as to undertake at my request." Jefferson alludes to similar sentiments of President James Madison [Jefferson's Secretary of State], "I witnessed too with pleasure the esteem with which you inspired my successor, then more immediately engaged in correspondence with you."
After the Louisiana Purchase, the high point in foreign policy during his presidency, Jefferson's ship of state struck rough waters stirred by British and French violations of American neutral trade. Jefferson tried to resolve the outstanding issues diplomatically and William Pinkney, in cooperation with James Monroe in England, played a key role in these negotiations. The American diplomats were unable to reach a satisfactory solution and Jefferson was forced to respond to British actions, particularly the famous Chesapeake Affair, with an embargo that backfired by crippling American trade.