Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Morris, 8 December 1793

From Robert Morris

New Brunswick Decr. 8th. 1793.


On the fifth instant I received the enclosed from the Attorney of the United States for this District, and forward it for the Presidents further information of the case of Clarkson Freeman.

It appears from it that a pardon to him is already filled up, and resting in Mr. Ogdens hands. The opperation of it, under all the circumstances, will necessarily become a question before the Court, if he should ever be apprehended.

From the evidence that came to my knowledge, I did not consider Clarkson Freeman a necessary, or proper selection for the purposes mentioned by Mr. Ogden, and I should now doubt the policy of promulgating the existence of the pardon, least it should induce him to return within the jurisdiction of the United States; leaving which, I should have advised to have been made a condition of a pardon under any circumstances to so finished a villain. With the greatest respect I am Sir Your very humble Servt.

Robt Morris

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “The Honble. Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State.” Recorded in SJL as received 10 Dec. 1793. Enclosure: Abraham Ogden to Morris, Newark, 29 Nov. 1793, stating in reply to his letter of 20 Nov. 1793 that after receiving the blank presidential pardon the Attorney General had sent on 21 Mch. 1791 for use in prosecuting the “Gang of Counterfeit Villains” he selected Freeman to testify against his accomplices; that although neither the original agreement nor Freeman’s subsequent conduct entitled him to unconditional clemency, he inserted Freeman’s name in the pardon because his confession had given information and evidence useful in several of the trials and he was listed as a witness in Parker’s indictment; that prior to Freeman’s escape he had refused to deliver the pardon until the government had fully availed itself of his testimony against his accomplices and because he was still under civil process in the New Jersey Supreme Court for large debts; and that after Freeman fled he had also refused to deliver the pardon to Freeman’s friends because his escape left the sheriff of Essex County liable for very large sums, for which he was being duly prosecuted, and he hoped to aid him in recovering Freeman by letting the sheriff avail himself of his commitment under federal authority (Tr in DNA: RG 59, Petitions for Pardon; Tr in same, MLR, undated). Morris’s letter of 20 Nov. 1793 had asked whether Ogden had additional reasons for leniency than his original contract with Freeman’s attorney (Tr in same, MLR).

TJ submitted this letter and its enclosure to the President on or before 14 Dec. 1793, when he returned them (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 268).

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