Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Hay to Thomas Jefferson, 20 July 1810

From George Hay

Richmond. July 20th 1810—


A copy of Livingston’s declaration, accompanies this letter. You will recollect, that you requested, that a copy might be transmitted to you.

I presume that the whole trespass is to be denied, except the motion of the defendant; for which there is to be a plea in justification. The plank, timbers, nails, bolts cordage &c could not have been taken away by the marshall or any acting under him. I take it for granted, that if articles of this description were lost by the plaintiff, that loss resulted from his own negligence. Being left by him on the batture, they were either Swept away by the flood, or appropriated, as derelict, by those who wanted them. The asportation of the Sand &c is I suppose truly Stated, except that the act was done, as before, by the people of N.O.

It is proper that Mr W. and myself Should See your statement, before we prepare the pleas. There is now a rule to plead entered against you: this rule will expire about the 15th of Aug.—Mr W. leaves this city about the 28th inst. for Buckingham. I hope it will be practicable for you to send your statement by the mail before that day.—

Mr W. with whom I conversed on the Subject of this Suit, and to whom I mentioned Mr Tazewells suggestion, seemed inclined to approve it, if the difficulty of making affidavi[ts] to the plea could be Surmounted. He remarked that no inconvenience would result from Livingston taking issue on the plea, because according to a late exposition of our Statute1 concerning pleading, a deft may plead and demur to the Same declaration: two things not more incongruous than a plea to the jurisdiction and a plea to the merits. Whether this inference be correct or not, I will not undertake to decide: nor do I think that even an inquiry is necessary, because I am convinced that when Mr T. & Mr W. understand the facts and law of the Case, they will abandon the idea of taking refuge in any technical proposition.

I am, with high respect, Yr mo. ob. Ser.

Geo: Hay

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 July 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

asportation: carrying away or removing someone else’s property (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ; OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). mr w.: William Wirt.

1Manuscript: “Stattute.”

Index Entries

  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; communications between TJ and his counsel concerning search
  • bolts, iron search
  • D’orgenoy, Francis Joseph Le Breton; and batture controversy search
  • Hay, George; and TJ’s statement on the batture case search
  • Hay, George; letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; statement on the batture case search
  • Livingston, Edward; bill of complaint against TJ search
  • nails; and batture controversy search
  • rope search
  • statement on the batture case (Thomas Jefferson); sent to TJ’s attorneys search
  • Tazewell, Littleton Waller; and batture controversy search
  • Virginia; statutes on legal pleadings search
  • Wirt, William; and TJ’s statement on the batture case search