Thomas Jefferson Papers

Petititon of William Mattox, with Jefferson’s Order, 27 January 1803

Petititon of William Mattox, with Jefferson’s Order

Washington City
27th. Jany. 1803

To the President of
United States

The Humble Petition of William Mattox Shewith that your Petitioner was convicted at the last Court held for the County of Washington in the district of Columbia—of Gambling for which he was fined to the amount of Fifty pounds Maryland Currency & cost. and is tharfore Committed to Jauil that your petitioner is a young Man and altho without any Family is unable to pay his fine and fees. that he is not in the habit of gambling that he was led into the Act for which he was Convicted from a want of Proper reflection that he has always sepperted a Good Character. that Josias M Speake and Samuel Speake his Brother both residents at this time in the City of Washington are both of them well acquainted with the said Petitioner and his Family have resided near to them from his Infancy untill a late period—and they do declare they never Knew of any misconduct of any one of his family untill the present and do believe he the said Petitioner being a young Man and Ignorent of the Laws was led into this by others. and being extreamly poor and now imprisoned. we think him a proper Object of the Clemancy of the President of the United States that as this is an act which he has not been in the habit of committing he tharefore hopes and prays that the President will remit his fine & fees and direct his discharge—his Statement is Supported by the papers herewith Sent—And the Petitioner will as in duty Bound ever pray

The Court while in session refused to recommend Mattox to the mercy of the President, as there did not appear on his trial any circumstances of extenuation. On the other hand, I do not recollect any of peculiar aggravation. It is stated to me that he has been in prison eight weeks. If the President should deem this imprisonment sufficient to answer the purposes of punishment for his offence, I feel confident that a remission of his fine would meet the approbation of the Court.—

W. Cranch, assistant Judge &c.
January 29. 1803.

I refused during the Session of the Court to recommend the remission of the fine imposed on Maddox or that imposed on Henderson, as I did not perceive any Sufficient Grounds for an active interference in their favour—But I am Willing to Concur in the Sentiments which Mr Cranch has expressed, and think that, if they Should have any effect they ought to extend to Henderson as Well as Maddox

W Kilty
Jany 31 1803

I agree in opinion with Mr. Kilty—

J Marshall

As attending Physician at the jail I have considered the case of the within petitioner Maddox.—His health appears to me to suffer much by confinement, & a large wen which he has under his ear is aggravated—

Fred: May

[Order by TJ:]

A pardon to be issued

April 21 1803.
Th: Jefferson

MS (DNA: RG 59, GPR); petition in an unidentified hand; statements on verso written and signed by William Cranch, William Kilty, James Marshall, and Frederick May. Enclosures: (1) Statement of Daniel C. Brent, undated, acknowledging his acquaintance with Josias and Samuel Speake and declaring that “neither of them wou’d certify any thing but what is correct.” (2) Statement of John Thomson Mason, 28 Jan. 1803, declaring that there is no reason to doubt the correctness of the verdict against Mattox; Mason knows nothing of Mattox’s “character or general deportment. He is from his appearance a young Man and a very poor one” (MSS in same). (3) Statement by William Kilty, 10 Feb. 1803, noting that his previous observations on Mattox’s petition, in addition to those made by Cranch, were applicable to Mattox only, “but I also stated that Henderson was equally entitled to relief, leaving Maddox’s case to depend on the recommendation which he had obtained” (MS in same; written at foot of Tr).

According to the record of his trial, laborer William Mattox (Maddox) of Washington County was indicted for operating a “Fair play Table” at the city race course on 4 Dec. 1802. Appearing before the December 1802 session of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Mattox’s attorney, Augustus B. Woodward, entered a plea of not guilty. The jury, however, found against the defendant and fined Mattox $133.33⅓ plus court costs (Tr in same, attested by Uriah Forrest, 28 Jan. 1803). TJ issued a pardon and remission of Mattox’s fines and charges on 22 Apr. 1803 (FC in Lb in same).

josias m. speake was a navy lieutenant stationed at the Washington Navy Yard (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939-44, 6 vols., and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801-1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , Register, 51). His brother, samuel speake, would be recommended to TJ as a candidate for justice of the peace in Washington, D.C. (Robert Brent to TJ, 4 Feb. 1803).

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