Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Robert Lawson, 11 May 1781

To Robert Lawson

Hors du monde May. 11. 1781.


The Council have reconsidered the military appointments and authorized me to make out for you a Brigadier’s commission. I could not do it then because the clerk had left Richmond with the great seal. I will take care to make it out on my return. They think they cannot consistently with the cons[titution] repeat the instance of separating fro[m the execu]tive power the appointment o[f militia] officers for the subordinate commands: [but] if you think proper to recommend they will pay particular respect to your recommendations and especially as to the officers you had with you before. I am with great respect Sir Your most obedt. servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (NcD); addressed: “Brigadr. Genl. Lawson Prince Edward”; endorsed; MS mutilated; reading established by Lawson’s reply, 16 May. TJ apparently paid for the expenses of the express rider who carried this letter, for his Account Book under date of 11 May 1781 has the following: “pd. David Burton expences to Genl. Lawson £60.”

A Brigadier’s commission: On 10 May the Council ordered that “Edward Stevens and Robert Lawson esquires be appointed Brigadier Generals of Militia during the present invasion; and that a Commission issue to Alexander Spotswood esquire as Brigadier General of the Two Legions directed by the Assembly to be raised: The Commissions to the aforesaid gentlemen to bear date the day General Spotswood was appointed by the Assembly” (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 344). Lawson’s commission (NcD), signed by TJ, with seal attached, is dated 20 Mch. 1781, the date of Spotswood’s appointment by the Assembly (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Mch. 1781, Va. State Libr., Bull., 1928, p. 41). Hors du Monde: TJ was at Col. Henry Skipwith’s (see Lawson to TJ, 16 May).

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