Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Daniel Brent, 21 May 1802

From Daniel Brent

Department of State, May 21st 1802.


I take the liberty to send you herewith a letter from Mr Dallas to the Secretary of State, just received at this Office, and the petition of David Jackson, therein referred to, together with a statement of the Jury by which he was tried, and found guilty of larceny, recommending him to the President of the United States for a pardon. I have the Honor likewise to send enclosed a recommendation in favor of Simon McIntosh Esqr., for the Office of Commissioner of Bankrupts at Charleston, South Carolina, received also since the Secretary’s departure.

Mr Madison having intimated to me, that you had expressed much solicitude concerning the publication of the laws of the last Session of Congress—that it might be speedily compleated—I have thought it would be satisfactory to You to learn the present state of that work. I do myself the Honor, therefore, to inform you, that the Printing is done to Chap. 42, inclusively, making 112 pages, and bringing the work up to the first day of this month, the last law printed being approved of on that day. Mr Smith is possessed of all the remaining Copy; and he supposes it will occupy about 60 pages more. I have the Honor to be, with the highest respect,

Sir, Your very Obedt hble servant,

Danl Brent.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 23 May and “David Jackson’s case Mc.Intosh to be Commr. bkrpts.” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Alexander J. Dallas to James Madison, Philadelphia, 15 May 1802, forwarding a petition for pardon to the president by David Jackson, along with a supporting recommendation from the jury at his trial; Dallas describes Jackson, a 15-year-old boy convicted of larceny on the high seas by the U.S. circuit court at Philadelphia on 14 May, as “a poor Lad, without family, or friends, in this part of the Continent”; the captain with whom Jackson sailed prosecuted him and “does not give him a good character”; but if the president sees fit to pardon Jackson, Dallas will prevail on the prison inspectors to find Jackson a master, “with whom there will be some chance of his reformation” (RC in DNA: RG 59, GPR). (2) Petition of David Jackson to TJ, undated, stating that he has been convicted of stealing two pairs of shoes worth $4 from John Case, that he is but 15 years of age and was “seduced into this transgression by the Indiscretion of youth”; Jackson is now “sincerely repentant” and has already spent almost nine months in prison in Philadelphia; if the “Infamous punishment” of the circuit court is carried out, it will condemn Jackson “to misery and detestation during the rest of his Life” (same; in an unknown hand, signed by Jackson with his mark). (3) Statement of Andrew Leinan, foreman, and 11 others, Philadelphia, 14 May 1802, members of the jury at Jackson’s trial, recommending him to the mercy of the president in consideration of his “tender years and the Imprisonment he has already suffered” (same; written on verso of Jackson’s petition to TJ; signed by Leinan and 11 others; endorsed by Daniel Brent). (4) William Marshall, Dominick A. Hall, Theodore Gaillard, O’Brien Smith, Paul Hamilton, and Daniel D’Oyley to James Madison, Charleston, 30 Apr. 1802, recommending Charleston attorney Simon McIntosh to be a commissioner of bankruptcy, describing him as “a gentleman of Talents and Integrity” and a “steady, undeviating Republican in the worst of Times” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ).

Daniel Brent (ca. 1773–1841) had been recommended to TJ for a federal clerkship by Richard Bland Lee in 1790. Hired by the Treasury Department, Brent resigned in January 1794, but subsequently returned to government service as a State Department clerk sometime before the start of TJ’s presidency. He served as acting chief clerk of the department for most of 1802 during the extended illness of Jacob Wagner. Brent was named chief clerk of the State Department in 1817 and held the position until 1833, when he was appointed U.S. consul at Paris (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 15:592, 663; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 32 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 8 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 3:xxvii, 47–8; Daily National Intelligencer, 14 Mch., 24 Sep. 1817; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 4:344; Philadelphia North American, 24 Feb. 1841; Vol. 17:354–5; Vol. 33:512, 513n).

TJ issued a pardon for DAVID JACKSON on 1 June 1802 (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, GPR).

SIMON MCINTOSH was appointed a commissioner of bankruptcy for SOUTH CAROLINA in place of Dominick A. Hall, who declined his appointment (Appendix 11, List 2).

For TJ’s concern regarding the PUBLICATION OF THE LAWS OF THE LAST SESSION OF CONGRESS, see TJ to James Madison, 9 May. Samuel Harrison SMITH received most of the federal printing contracts granted during and by the Seventh Congress (Vol. 36:120–2).

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