Vellum manuscript DS, signed “Th: Jefferson" as president and "James Madison" as secretary of state, one page, 14.75 x 11.25, May 12, 1801. President Jefferson appoints Thomas Sumter Junior as "Secretary of the Legation of the United States of America to the French Republic," authorizing him "to do and perform all such matters and things as to the said place or appointment doth appertain." Crisply signed at the conclusion by President Jefferson and countersigned by Secretary of State Madison. Handsomely double-matted and framed with two portraits, two nameplates, and a plaque discussing the document's historical context to an overall size of 28 x 33.5. In very good to fine condition, with a small stain, much of the seal removed, the start of Madison's signature a bit light, and the body of the document light but legible; Jefferson's handsome signature is remarkably bold.
Thomas Sumter, Jr. (1768-1840), was the only son of South Carolina Congressman Thomas Sumter, Sr., a hero of the Revolutionary War; the elder Sumter's fierce fighting style earned him the moniker 'Carolina Gamecock,' which endures as the nickname for the University of South Carolina's sports teams. Sumter, Jr.'s term as secretary of the American legation in Paris was brief, ending with his resignation in May 1802 following a dispute with Robert R. Livingston, the US minister to France who was in the process of negotiating the Louisiana Purchase. Sumter, Jr. served briefly as James Monroe’s private secretary in London before returning to South Carolina in November 1803. When James Madison took office in 1809, he named Sumter, Jr. as the ambassador to the Portuguese Court during its exile to Brazil. Sumter, Jr. held the post in Rio de Janeiro until 1819.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.