Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph H. Nicholson, 8 March 1802

From Joseph H. Nicholson

March 8. 1802


I beg Leave to enclose you a Petition from John D: Thompson of Cecil County, who it appears has been indicted for not returning the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of that County within the Time limited by Law, and wishes to have the Prosecution dismissed. I know nothing of the Merits of his Case, but send you a Letter from Mr. David, a Member of the Executive Council of Maryland, who I am well acquainted with, and who I am persuaded would not state any thing as a fact which he did not know to be true.

It has been said that the Census of Cecil County was badly taken; and this perhaps may be the Fact; but it is, certainly, a Fact which could not be ascertained without going into a second Enumeration, and is not the Offence for which he has been indicted. I do[…] whether any Injury has arisen from the Delay, […] respectfully, to offer an Opinion that the Relief asked for might be granted without Impropriety; more particularly as I believe the Party to be a very poor Man—

I have the Honor to be Sir, with high Consideration Yr. Ob: Hble Servt

Joseph H. Nicholson

RC (DNA: RG 59, GPR); torn; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Mch. from Washington and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “Thompson John D.” and “to lie till trial.” Enclosure: Petition of John D. Thompson, 5 Mch. 1802, responding to his indictment in Maryland district court for delinquent submission of Cecil County census returns and requesting a nolle prosequi, explaining that his family’s sickness prevented him from making the return to the Maryland marshal before 15 July 1801 (RC in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed and dated by Thompson; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; attested by Samuel Briscoe, justice of the peace for Cecil County, and certified by John Baxter, clerk, on 5 Mch.); and accompanied by a statement of attending physician John King that Thompson was confined to his house and unable to attend to business from 3 Oct. to 5 Nov. 1800 and for ten days in Feb. 1801 (MS in same; in a clerk’s hand, signed by King; attested and certified on 5 Mch.). Other enclosure not found.

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