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Edward Church, Consul to Bilbao, Spain, was the first United States consul to be rejected by a foreign port. This 1790 document, signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, is Church's commission as United States Consul to Bilbao and the document that started the whole affair
Manuscript Letter Signed: "Th: Jefferson" as Secretary of State, 1p, 7¼x8¼. New York, 1790 June 17. To Edward Church, Esq. In full: "Sir, The President of the United States desiring to avail the public of your services as Consul for the Port of Bilboa [sic], I have now the honor of enclosing you the Commission, and of expressing to you the sentiments of perfect esteem with which I am, Sir Your Most obedient and Most humble Servant". On June 4, 1790, in a letter to the U.S. Senate, President Washington nominated 14 Consuls and Vice-Consuls, including "Edward Church, of Massachusetts, to be Consul of the United States of America, for the port of Bilboa [sic] in the kingdom of Spain, and for such parts of the said kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States, in the said kingdom." On June 7th, nine of the nominations were approved; Church's nomination was postponed. On June 17, 1790, the resolution "That the Senate do advise and consent to the appointment of Edward Church" passed. President Washington signed Church's commission and, with this letter, it was forwarded to Church by Secretary of State Jefferson. Church sailed to Europe with his family and arrived in July in Bordeaux, France to board a boat that would carry him and his family directly to Bilbao on the Bay of Biscay on the northern coast of Spain. He had planned to improve trade between the Basque port and the U.S. However, he was informed at Bordeaux that the Biscayans would not allow representatives of foreign countries on their lands. Unsure as to what to do, Church wrote to the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Madrid, Spain, William Carmichael, to ascertain if this was indeed the case. In a letter dated August 4, 1791, Carmichael confirmed that "By privileges granted to the Biscayans no Foreign Consul is admitted at Bilbao". Church then remained in Bordeaux at his own expense. His wife suffered a miscarriage, a daughter got sick, and he himself was ill with fever when he wrote to President Washington in September to explain the situation. On May 3, 1792, Washington wrote to the U.S. Senate, nominating that Church "heretofore appointed, but not received, as Consul for the United States at Bilboa [sic], to be Consul for the United States at the port of Lisbon, in the kingdom of Portugal, and for such other parts within the allegiance of her most faithful Majesty, as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same allegiance." The Senate consented to the appointment on May 5, 1792. Church served as U.S. Consul in Lisbon until 1797. His consular appointment to Bilbao was the first appointment of a U.S. Consul rejected by a foreign port. THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826) served as third U.S. President from 1801 to 1809. A former delegate to the Continental Congress from Virginia (1775-1776, 1783-1784), Jefferson drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence (1776). He then served as Governor of Virginia (1779-1781) and as a member of Virginia's state legislature (1782). Named U.S. Minister to France in 1785, Jefferson remained abroad until 1789, when he was asked by George Washington to be his Secretary of State (1790-1793). Jefferson then served as Vice President under John Adams (1797-1801) until being elected President. A man of many talents, Jefferson has been called "the Sage of Monticello" and "the Father of the University of Virginia". Shaded at margins from prior mounting. Folds, horizontal fold touches upper loops of signature. ½-inch vertical separation at lower blank mid-vertical fold. ¼-inch tear at lower blank right margin. Mid-vertical fold slightly shaded. Otherwise, fine condition. Accompanied by PSA/DNA LOA.

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Born: Circa 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia
Died: July 4, 1826 in Charlottesville, Virginia

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