No Promotion - Charles Thomson Dreams Too Big

No Promotion - Charles Thomson Dreams Too Big

Charles Thomson was Secretary to the Continental Congress throughout the Revolutionary War and Articles of Confederation Periods.

Thomson thought this would translate into a position in the new Federal Government.

Unfortunately, things aren’t always so easy.

Help Wanted

It was done.

The United States Constitution had been ratified and George Washington elected President.

Now it was time to select people for appointment positions in the new government.

Charles Thomson expected to be given an office.

Charles Thomson

Charles Thomson was Secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789, the entire duration of its existence.

When the Federal Government began its operation, most expected Thomson to continue his post in some fashion.

Charles was hoping for bigger things. He wanted a Cabinet position.

At the time, the Office of Secretary of State was not so clearly defined. There were rumors that two people might hold this job, one for foreign matters and another for domestic.

Thomson wanted in.


President Washington had different ideas. He expected just one man, Thomas Jefferson, to control the State Department.

By the time Thomson found this out, other men had been submitted to act as Secretary of Congress.

When he publicly announced his candidacy to retain the job he had performed admirably for the prior fifteen years, Charles was no longer the obvious choice.

Certain Demands

Though he seemed to be a front-runner for the Office, Thomson made several curious demands.

First, he wanted an assistant. Having help with such a big job might not sound too ridiculous, except that Charles wanted one so that he did not have to attend sessions of Congress’ except on special occasions.’ 

Additionally, Thomson wanted to be given the title of ‘Secretary of the Senate and of the United States.’


The End

The debate over who would be Secretary was one of the first ones had by the new government (because they needed someone to take notes on during these important early meetings).

Although it was a close race, Thomson lost to Samuel Allyne Otis. Otis, a member of the important Massachusetts Family, would serve in the position for the next twenty-five years.

As for Thomson, he decided to retire to his farm outside Philadelphia, ending a long Revolutionary career.

Want to read about more Founders who didn’t get the position they wanted?

Check out these articles:

John Patten Has His Election Overturned

Caesar Augustus Rodney Loses His Way to Attorney General

Rufus King - The Last Federalist

Charles Thomson does not have a biography of his own.

He does play a notable role in ‘Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor’ which you will like if you want to learn about the early days of rebellion.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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