Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Edmund J. Lee, Cuthbert Powell, and Archibald McClean, 15 April 1803

To Edmund J. Lee, Cuthbert Powell,
and Archibald McClean

Washington Apr. 15. 1803.


Agreeably to the request in your letter of Dec. 30. when at Monticello the last month, I examined my collection of the Virginia laws and found in it those below mentioned which [related] to Alexandria &1 were not noted in your catalogue of those you possess. I delivered the volumes, with the list of the acts to a person who will copy them carefully & forward them to me. when recieved they shall be immediately sent to you. Accept my respectful salutations.

Th: Jefferson

1752. c. 37. An act for allowing fairs to be kept in the town of Alexandria.

1755. c. 15. An act reviving an act intitled ‘an act for allowing fairs &c.’

1762. c. 25. An act for enlarging the town of Alexandria in the county of Fairfax.

1764. c. 10. An act for encouraging the settlement of the towns of Alexandria & Falmouth and for other purposes therein mentioned.

1772. c. 52. An act to encourage the further settlement of the town of Alexandria in the county of Fairfax.

PrC (ViW: Tucker-Coleman Collection); blurred; at foot of text: “Messrs. Lee, Powell & Mc.lean”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Edmund Jennings Lee (1772–1843), an attorney; Cuthbert Powell (1775–1849), a merchant in King’s Street; and Archibald McClean, a schoolmaster and merchant, were all active in Alexandria’s local government in 1803. During the decade, Lee, who married his cousin Sarah Lee, daughter of Richard Henry Lee, served as a member and then president of the city council. From 1802 to 1803, he was recorder of the council. In 1815, he became mayor of Alexandria. He acted as clerk of the U.S. Circuit Court from 1818 to 1837. TJ appointed Powell justice of the peace for Alexandria County in 1801 and renewed the appointment in 1807. He was married to Catherine Simms, daughter of Alexandria collector Charles Simms. Powell served as a director of the Alexandria Library Company and as an officer of the Sun Fire Company in 1803. In 1806, he became a city councilman and in 1808 mayor of Alexandria. He moved to Loudoun County and served in the Virginia Assembly, as a senator from 1815 to 1819 and as a delegate from 1828 to 1829. He became a Virginia congressman in 1841, serving one term. McClean served as an Alexandria councilman from 1802 to 1803 and was elected to supervise elections in the First Ward in 1804. His father-in-law, David Jones, a Baptist minister in Chester County, Pennsylvania, wrote TJ recommending McClean as collector at the port of Alexandria in case of Simms’s removal. McClean also wrote TJ about the appointment in 1802. McClean and Lee, in early 1804, served on the committee that prepared a memorial to Congress seeking changes in Alexandria’s charter of incorporation (Miller, Alexandria Artisans description begins T. Michael Miller, comp., Artisans and Merchants of Alexandria, Virginia, 1780–1820, Bowie, Md., 1991–92, 2 vols. description ends , 1:xxviii-xxxii, 268, 308; 2:50, 304; Alexandria Times; and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, 18 May, 22 July 1802; Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer, 3 Feb. 1802; 22 Feb., 30 Mch. 1803; Alexandria Daily Advertiser, 11 Jan., 9, 29 Feb. 1804; Washington, Diaries, 6:258n; commission in Lb in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC; Vol. 33:123–4, 674; Vol. 34:492; Vol. 36:314–17, 326, 335; Vol. 37:154).

According to SJL, TJ received the letter of 30 Dec. from Lee, Powell, and McClean at Alexandria on 1 Jan. TJ responded the next day. On 9 Jan., according to SJL, TJ received another letter from them dated the 8th. All three letters are missing.

For TJ’s collection of the virginia laws and his efforts to organize and make them accessible to the public, see Vol. 28:319, 332, 569, 581–91.

1Preceding three words and ampersand interlined.

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