Infamous Dr. from Harriet Jacob’s autobiography writes to Secretary of Treasury for job for his son



Date Written

Aug. 21, 1826

James Norcom was 47 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Richard Rush, was 45 when it was received.

James Norcom died 24 years, 2 months, 19 days after writing this.
It was written 197 years, 1 month, 12 days ago.
It was a Monday.

21st Aug 1826

Dear Sir,

It was my singular good fortune, in youth, to enjoy, in a very great degree, the confidence & friendship of your father. This circumstance, together with the acquaintance, I had the honor of forming with you, under his hospitable and scientific roof, will, I flatter myself, will be a sufficient apology for my addressing you on the present occasion; and will constitute no small recommendation to the favour & consideration of his son. It leads me to hope that the fortunes of a man who was always regarded with so much kindness & benevolent sympathy by this lamented patron of science & humanity, will not be entirely indifferent to you!

My son John Norcom, now about 24 years of age, is a physician. After having passed through college in Philadelphia, he read medicine with me about 2 years, 2 years more as a private pupil of Dr. Potter of Baltimore, and graduated in the school of Baltimore, after attending 3 courses of lectures there! I hesitate to say that John is an excellent classical scholar, a well educated Physician, a good practitioner of medicine, & a man of estimable moral character.

He has been practicing medicine for a year and half with me & is now occupied in practice in the town of Plymouth on the Roanoke, about 20 miles from this place. But the scene is much too limited for his views & ambitions; & he is desirous of removing to some place where his talents may be more useful, & his labors better rewarded. As no such situation presents itself to me, at present, he has requested me to apply to the war department for some appointment in the army or navy, by which he may be made useful to his country, whilst he may be in a state of honorable activity & progressive improvement. May I solicit the favor of you to interest yourself so far in the case, as to make proper mention of him to our Secretaries, & to use so much influence in his behalf as may be convenient & agreeable. If anything be necessary, after what I have stated above, in addition to your good word and recommendation, certificates of any sort can be obtained, to prove a character and a degree of proficiency worthy of the public confidence & consideration.

With sentiments of great & unfeigned esteem & the sincerest wishes for your prosperity & happiness. I have the honor to be very respectfully, your most obt. Servt.

Jas. Norcom

PS I am yet the slave of my profession in this place, have a family of six children, four of whom are sons & all promising; having had the misfortune of losing 2 sons & a daughter.

[Note written on outside apparently by Richard Rush]
Respectfully referred to the Secretary of War, with favorable opinion of writer. R. R. September 12, 1826

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