Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Philip Turner, 1 January 1802

From Philip Turner

New York 1st Janry: 1802


Pray let my situation apologies for my troubling your excellency to listen a minute to my wishes, at this blessed period, when you are on the minds of the people (all in all) serving the whole race of mankind, on the general scale of Justice and political happiness, especially our own national concerns &c, and those who realy suffer persecution in consequence of our late exertions, I am a distinguished man in favor of our present glorious administration, have left my native home, domestic happiness, and an extensive practice of Physic and surgery, to get away from the bitter envious, and mischievous Clergy of Connecticut, who I have been publicly abused by, all on Acct. of Electioneering, I have resided in N:York for twelve months past where I would wish to continue and move my family, the medical department of the United States is an expensive one, some experienced gentleman appointed (at the Head) to superintend the practice of physic and surgery and direct its affairs may be of great use, in our late revolution of this country from the first Action of Bunker-Hill, I served to the close, was appointed as Surgn. Genl. of the eastern department by congress as appears by their Journals, if it should be tho’t best to appoint, I shall be happy to serve in that charactor or any other where the public may be benefited, it frequently happens here in this City the landing of Sick &c, by our navy which requires constant medical attendance and no one particular appointed for that purpose, if I might be Honrd. by your excellency in an appointment, or requested by letter from either of our secretarys of War or Navy to the discharge of that duty, it will be most gratefully Acknowledged, at a monthly pay or the keeping of a running Acct. of Services and medicine (occasionally) certified to, and settled by our Agent here as Customary—

Your Excellency’s most Obedient and very Humble servt,

P: Turner

The Honble. Genl. Bradley Esqr. and the Honble. Gideon Granger Esqr. are both my friends who will do every thing to serve


RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); upper left corner clipped. Recorded in SJL as received 8 Jan. with the notation “to be employed medically.”

Philip Turner (1740–1815), a physician and surgeon, was born in Norwich, Connecticut. During the Revolutionary War, Turner attended Connecticut troops until the Continental Congress in 1777 appointed him surgeon general of the military hospital of the eastern department. In 1780, Congress reorganized the army’s medical department, abolished Turner’s office, and assigned him as hospital physician and surgeon. After he retired from the army in 1781, he sought back pay with interest from the U.S. government. In 1805, Turner wrote to TJ to ask him to assist the claim. An act passed by Congress on 22 Apr. 1808 allowed Turner compensation at a rate determined by his last position with the army. From 1809 until his death, Turner served as an army surgeon in New York City and its harbor (Charles B. Graves, “Dr. Philip Turner of Norwich, Connecticut,” Annals of Medical History, 10 [1928], 15, 17–23; Washington, Papers, Rev. War Ser., 2:321n; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Claims, 1:394; U.S. Senate, Report of the Committee on the Petition of Philip Turner, Late Surgeon General in the Revolutionary War [Washington, 1808]; 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 , 6:73; Turner to TJ, 10 Oct. 1805).

Turner resided At 426 Pearl Street In New York City In 1802 (Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register and City-Directory for the Twenty-Seventh Year of American Independence [New York, 1802], 337).

A letter from Turner to TJ of 26 Mch. 1802, recorded in SJL as received 31 Mch. from New York with the notation “to be in Medical line,” has not been found.

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