Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Lewis, Sr., 11 February 1801

From Samuel Lewis, Sr.

Debtors apartment, Philadelphia Feby: 11, 1801


I think it my duty to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, enclosing the small Maps. Your favorable Opinion of my Abilities, merits my most sincere thanks: and, approbation coming from so respectable a source, and from one, so capable of ascertaining true worth, adds not a little to my Vanity. Geographical drawings have been my eager pursuit and ambition to excel, almost from my infancy: and in which branch I am warranted in saying, I am perfectly competent.

The Sentiments of humanity you express towards my unfortunate Situation, I know not how to return Gratitude for: but by a constant wish for your future health and happiness.

Permit me to add, that the Bill, which has passed the house of Representatives, for my relief, and is now before the honorable the Senate, may meet with support from you, and may I presume to hope, your influence, in restoring me to my afflicted and distressed family, who daily languish at my seperation from them.

I have the honor to be, Sir, with the greatest respect, Your most obedient Servant

Samuel Lewis Senr:

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr:”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Feb. 1801 and so recorded in SJL.

Your letter: TJ wrote to Lewis on 24 Jan. and returned Lewis’s maps, which TJ called “specimens of as exquisite penmanship as I have ever seen, and if they could have been compleated and engraved, would probably have been useful to yourself as well as the public.” TJ also pledged that he would “with great pleasure see any act of justice” enacted by Congress “and every remission of useless severities which may place you in a situation to accomodate the public by the employment of your talents, or leave them free for the support of your family” (PrC in DLC).

A petition for the relief of the former War Department clerk was first introduced in Congress on 11 Feb. 1800 and was referred to the secretary of war. A bill for Lewis’s discharge became law on 25 Feb. 1801 (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:587, 774; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:131; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 6:43).

Lewis also wrote letters to TJ on 15 Apr. and 23 May 1801, recorded in SJL as received 6 and 26 May, respectively, which have not been found.

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