University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

expand sectionA. 
expand sectionB. 
expand sectionC. 
expand sectionD. 
expand sectionE. 
expand sectionF. 
expand sectionG. 
expand sectionH. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionJ. 
expand sectionK. 
expand sectionL. 
expand sectionM. 
expand sectionN. 
expand sectionO. 
expand sectionP. 
expand sectionQ. 
collapse sectionR. 
7210. RELATIONS, Appointment to office.—[continued]
expand sectionS. 
expand sectionT. 
expand sectionU. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionW. 
expand sectionX. 
expand sectionY. 
expand sectionZ. 

expand section 
expand section 

7210. RELATIONS, Appointment to office.—[continued]

——. I am much concerned to
learn that any disagreeable impression was made
on your mind, by the circumstances which are
the subject of your letter. Permit me first to
explain the principles which I had laid down
for my own observance. In a government like
ours, it is the duty of the Chief Magistrate, in
order to enable himself to do all the good which
his station requires, to endeavor, by all honorable
means, to unite in himself the confidence
of the whole people. This alone, in any case
where the energy of the nation is required, can
produce a union of the powers of the whole,
and point them in a single direction, as if all
constituted but one body and one mind, and this
alone can render a weaker nation unconquerable
by a stronger one. Towards acquiring the confidence
of the people, the very first measure is
to satisfy them of his disinterestedness, and that
he is directing their affairs with a single eye
to their good, and not to build up fortunes for
himself and family, and especially, that the officers
appointed to transact their business, are
appointed because they are the fittest men, and
not because they are his relations. So prone
are they to suspicion, that where a President appoints
a relation of his own, however worthy,
they will believe that favor and not merit, was
the motive. I, therefore, laid it down as a law
of conduct for myself, never to give an appointment
to a relation. Had I felt any hesitation in
adopting this rule, examples were not wanting
to admonish me what to do and what to avoid.
Still, the expression of your willingness to act
in any office for which you were qualified, could
not be imputed to you as blame. It would not
readily occur that a person qualified for office
ought to be rejected merely because he was
related to the President, and the then more recent
examples favored the other opinion. In
this light I considered the case as presenting
itself to your mind, and that the application
might be perfectly justifiable on your part,
while, for reasons occurring to none perhaps,
but the person in my situation, the public interest
might render it unadvisable. Of this,
however, be assured that I considered the
proposition as innocent on your part, and that
it never lessened my esteem for you, or the interest
I felt in your welfare.—
To J. Garland Jefferson. Washington ed. v, 497. Ford ed., ix, 270.
(M. 1810)