Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel D. Purviance, 24 October 1803

From Samuel D. Purviance

Washington City, Octo. 24th. 1803.


I have the honor of laying before you certain papers which were enclosed to me in a letter from Joseph Pickett Esquire, of Anson County, in the District of Fayetteville, respecting the case of John Campbell and Farquhar Campbell, insolvent debtors. Mr. Pickett informs me that the former of these Gentlemen has been, for some time past, and still is, confined within the bounds of the Prison of that county. Mr. Howard, one of the Commissioners mentioned in the letter of Mr. Tillinghast, is since dead; Mr.1 Hay or Mr.2 Cochran, of Fayetteville, or the above named Mr. Pickett, would perhaps be deemed proper by the Executive to succeed him. Either of these gentlemen, is, in the opinion of the writer of this Note, perfectly qualified.

I am, very respectfully, your most obt. servt.

Saml. D. Purviance

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); in TJ’s hand, at foot of text: “Robert Troy”; TJ probably entered the emendations, including the interlineations (see notes below), after receiving Nathaniel Macon’s letter of 17 Nov.; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. and “Commrs. of bkrptcy for N. Cara.” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: perhaps William Johnson and Others to TJ, 24 July 1803. Other enclosures not found.

Of Huguenot descent, Samuel Densmore Purviance (1774-1806) was born at Castle Fin House near Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1795, he began to practice law at Fayetteville, where he also owned a plantation on the Cape Fear River. He served several terms as a state legislator before being elected as a Federalist to the Eighth Congress. His election was unsuccessfully contested by Republican Duncan McFarland. Purviance did not stand for reelection in 1804. In that year, North Carolina elected a full Republican contingent of 12 representatives to the House. Purviance died while on a western expedition along the Red River (Delbert Harold Gilpatrick, Jeffersonian Democracy in North Carolina, 1789–1816 [New York, 1931], 169-71; William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 vols. (Chapel Hill, 1979-96), 4:146-7; 5:159; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832-61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:389).

Both joseph pickett and John hay ran unsuccessfully for Congress from North Carolina’s Seventh District in 1804. McFarland won the election (Gilpatrick, Jeffersonian Democracy in North Carolina, 242-3; Michael J. Dubin, United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st through 105th Congresses [Jefferson, N.C., 1998], 27-8, 32).

1TJ here interlined “John.”

2TJ here interlined “Robert.”

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