Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Thomson Mason, with Jefferson’s Order, 19 November 1802

From John Thomson Mason, with Jefferson’s Order

George Town 19th Nov. 1802


Inclosed I return to you the transcript of the record of conviction in the case of the United States v Samuel Fumfrey alias Pumphry

Upon the trial the evidence was so strong and so respectable as to exclude all possibility of doubt as to his guilt. From the articles enumerated in the Indictment you will discover it was a little felony. The circumstances were these, the criminal, a free black man, was in the habit of cleaning the boots and shoes of William Duane and his assistant and of performing other little menial services about the store. This enabled him to observe the situation of the store and the habits of its keeper, they afforded him as he supposed an opportunity of pilfering without danger of detection, he made the attempt, but as the result showed upon false calculations, for he was detected in the fact.

The Court adjudged him to receive corporal punishment and to pay a fine of one dollar, the former part of the Judgment he has satisfied, for the latter together with the costs of the prosecution he was committed to Jail. His having remained there so long proves his inability to pay them. To remit the fine without also remitting the costs (which I presume have been already paid by the United States) would be to leave him where he is.

I have the honor to be Sir with great respect Your Obedt Servt

J. T. Mason

[Order by TJ:]

the fine and costs to be remitted

Th: Jefferson

Nov. 20. 1802.

RC (DNA: RG 59, GPR). Enclosure: proceedings of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, 22 Mch. 1802, in the trial against Samuel Fumfrey, alias Samuel Pumphry, a free black laborer, indicted for stealing money, books, clothing, and sundry personal articles worth an estimated $14.01 from William Duane and William Kean on or about 1 Mch. 1802; Fumfrey is found guilty and ordered to receive 39 stripes on the back and to pay a fine of $1 and court costs totaling $18.50 and 327⅓ pounds of tobacco (Tr in same; attested by Uriah Forrest, clerk of court, 11 Nov. 1802).

TJ issued a pardon for samuel fumfrey on 23 Nov. 1802, remitting the payment of Fumfrey’s fine and court costs (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, GPR).

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