Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Petition from Hopley Yeaton, 1 August 1801

Petition from Hopley Yeaton

Portsmo. N.H.
August 1st. 1801

To the President of the United States—

Humbly shews, Hopley Yeaton of Portsmouth in the State of New Hampshire, that in the beginning of our revolutionary struggle, he served as third lieutenant on board the Raleigh frigate—that he was afterwards promoted to the first lieutenancy of the Deane frigate, in which capacity he served about five years—after which he became superintendent of the Navy yard at said Portsmouth, under the Honble. John Langdon Esqr., and so continued during the war—That on the establishment of revenue cutters, he was appointed by the late President Washington, to the command of the cutter Scammel, the first fitted out from this port and continued in that service, (to general approbation, so he flatters himself,) till removed by the late President Adams. This took place at the same time Mr Whipple & Mr. Gardner were dismiss’d from their offices—No reasons were assigned for the measure, nor can your petitioner conjecture any, unless it could be a steady adherence to republican principles, & a refusal to sign an address to Mr. Adams, expressing perfect satisfaction and entire confidence in his administration—

Your petitioner conceiving he has undeservedly suffered by this sudden & unexpected removal therefore prays, that the President would take into consideration the above statement of facts, and (if on enquiry found worthy) that your petitioner may be reinstated in his former office as commander of the revenue cutter in this station, or otherwise restored to public trust & confidence, as the President in his wisdom shall deem just & fit: And your petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray—

Hopley Yeaton

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers). Enclosed in Joseph Whipple to Gallatin, 27 Oct. 1801, listed as Enclosure No. 2 above.

Hopley Yeaton (1740–1812), of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was a leader of the local Sons of Liberty before the American Revolution and, in 1776, received a commission as lieutenant in the American navy. In 1790, Washington appointed him commander of the Scammell, the New Hampshire revenue cutter. At the urging of Federalists at Portsmouth, Adams dismissed Yeaton, along with other Republicans at the custom house, in June 1798. TJ appointed Yeaton master of the New Hampshire revenue cutter in September 1802. When Yeaton resigned in 1809 because of “age and infirmities,” Whipple observed that he had been “a faithful Officer, prompt in executing and diligent in every part of his duty” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 19:875; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Presidential Series, 1987–, 12 vols. description ends , 4:395–6; 6:540–1; Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette, 9 June 1812; Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 46–56; Vol. 33:559–61; TJ to Gallatin, 17 Sep. 1802).

No reasons were assigned: Yeaton did not realize New Hampshire Federalists had informed the Adams administration that he was “well known to be a violent furious democrat, and abusive in the extreme.” Federalist party leader Jeremiah Smith, the U.S. attorney and former New Hampshire congressman, described Yeaton as intemperate and “an open and decided Jacobin—he is a vehement railer against the government and of course a zealous partizan of France” (Prince, Federalists description begins Carl E. Prince, The Federalists and the Origins of the U.S. Civil Service, New York, 1977 description ends , 49, 52–6).

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