Jefferson breathed a sigh of relief when Congress arose and went home in April, 1806. He had lost his major measures, and had been subjected to bitter attacks from the Federalists and even more bitter assaults from those who had borne the mantle of republicanism in the past.
With John Randolph now ranged against him, with even Nicholson to be placated, he sought another leader through whom his policies might be transmitted to the next session. It is difficult to determine just why he picked on Barnabas Bidwell of Massachusetts for the post: a freshman Congressman in the previous session and a gentleman of mediocre attainments. Perhaps his mediocrity made him more amenable to direction; perhaps the fact that he came from a formerly rock-ribbed Federalist stare gave him a certain accolade and made him less apt to betrayal than the more volatile and independent Virginians.
In any event, Jefferson proposed to Bidwell that he run again for Congress, remarking flatteringly that "all eyes look to you. It was not perhaps expected from a new member, at his first session, & before the forms & style of doing business were familiar. But it would be a subject of deep regret were you to refuse yourself to the conspicuous part in the business of the house which all assign to you."1
Bidwell responded modestly to the flattery that he would run again and do his best if elected, but he feared he would be able to play only a moderate part in the House.2
Meanwhile, Jefferson did not forget his old friend, John Page, now out of the governorship of Virginia and again, so to speak, on the dole. He offered him the Loan Office at Richmond just as soon as the current incumbent died, an event very shortly expected. It paid $1,500 a year and commissions and, as Jefferson pointed out, "the office is a perfect sinecure." Page could even put one of his sons in as a clerk to do the job and thereby gain an extra thousand a year. Not only that, but his son would thereby in effect gain a possession of the office, so that, on Page's death, he would have an excellent claim to the succession.3
In the matter of the indigent Page, Jefferson forgot all his fine sentiments about the sacredness of office and permitted old friendship to override the public welfare.
This was the first year that Jefferson had remained so far into the summer at Washington, and he hated it. "Absence from you becomes every day more and more insupportable," he wrote his daughter Martha, "and my