Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Fairlie, 17 May 1803

From James Fairlie

New York 17 May 1803


Lieut: William Yates—of the Artillery is ordered by the War Department, to proceed to Tenessee with Captn: Izard’s company—

Application has been made to the Secretary at War, to dispense with that order, on Accot of certain family circumstances, as well as the bad state of this young Gentleman’s Health.

As the last hope on this Occasion Sir, I have presumed to request your interference in his favor—

If it is impossible that the order can be countermanded in Season to reach Richmond, before the Company leaves that place, knowing as I do the impossibility of Mr. Yates’s being able to proceed on that Service—I must entreat that his Resignation, which is this day forwarded to the War Office may be accepted

My extreem Solisitude on this occasion (which is of no common kind) in behalf of a Relation I hope Sir will be accepted by you as some appology for thus intruding on your time upon a Subject which you may deem of a trifling nature, but which is very Interest[ing] to me

I am with the greatest Respe[ct] Sir your most Obedient Serv[ant]

Ja: Fairlie

RC (PHi); torn; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 May and so recorded in SJL with notation “W.”

James Fairlie (1757–1830) served as an aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben during the American Revolution. He married Maria Yates, daughter of the chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, and became clerk to that court in 1796. TJ appointed him a commissioner of bankruptcy for New York in 1802. He also served in the New York legislature and as a director of the Manhattan Company (Geddeth Smith, Thomas Abthorpe Cooper: America’s Premier Tragedian [Madison, N.J., 1996], 160; Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:374; New York Evening Post, 9 Dec. 1803; New York Spectator, 16 Oct. 1830; Vol. 37:402–3, 516, 698).

The 14 May request by Lieutenant william yates not to travel with his company to Tennessee was denied. Replying on 20 May, Henry Dearborn admonished Yates by stating that “it would appear that you as well as many other Officers of the Army consider a Military Commission as a convenience, and that when Military duty in any degree interferes with private concerns, the service is no longer an object worthy of attention.” Yates would not be discharged, Dearborn continued, until he had “performed the duties on which you have been ordered.” If poor health prevented him from marching, Yates would be considered on furlough until he recovered (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSMA). Writing from Tennessee in 1805, Yates twice solicited a furlough from duty before resigning his commission in November 1806 (DNA: RG 107, RLRMS; Dearborn to TJ, 30 May 1807).

Index Entries