Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Pleasants to Thomas Jefferson, 25 February 1812

From James Pleasants

Washington, February 25th 1812.

Dear Sir,

Yours, enclosing mr Harrison’s letter on the subject of commissions for Doctor James & his brothers was receivd several days since; I immediately waited on the secretary at war & had a conversation with him on the subject, from which I think one of them will receive a commission. There would have been no doubt as to the others, but as the applications from that state were considerably more numerous than the vacancies to be filled, the Secretary seemed to think it would not be proper to appoint two or more in one family, whilst a number must necessarily be rejected; this consideration was strengthened by the circumstance of its being necessary for the benefit of the recruiting service, to distribute the Company officers over the Country as equally as practicable.

The report of the commee of ways & means, nearly in conformity with the letter from the treasury depertment, will be taken up this day; there will be opposition, produced by local circumstances, to different parts of the proposed taxes; but I think there is no doubt but a considerable majority will be found in favour of additional revenue enough to pay the interest on the necessary loans, in some form or other—I believe war is expected by the best informed men here; the hopes from the prince1 of Wales becoming unshackled in the exercise of the regal functions being much diminished.

It is proper that I should apologise to you in this place for not answering a letter receivd from you some time since on the subject of making a title to the Beaverdam lands to W Bentley—I communicated the contents of your letter to Bentley soon after it was receivd, but he never did any thing in the business—In the course of that year I was servd with a Spa from the Federal court to answer a Bill filed by the heirs of Wm Ronald, the object of which was to prohibit me as surviving trustee in that deed from making a deed to Bentley, on the ground of his having purchased the land for the benefit of the heirs of Ronald, and paid for it with their money—I answered the Bill on which I believe no decree has ever yet been made. As soon as any thing is done I will make it known to you, that means may be taken to secure the balance due. With Sentiments of Greatest respect,

I am very sincerely, yr obt &ca

James Pleasants jr

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 1 Mar. 1812 and so recorded in SJL; notation by TJ above dateline: “Bentley William.”

doctor james & his brothers may have been relatives of Philip Turpin. TJ had forwarded a letter to Secretary of War William Eustis from the elder Turpin in connection with this request for patronage, and on 12 Mar. 1812 Beverly Turpin was appointed a second lieutenant in the light dragoons, United States Army (TJ to Eustis, 9 Feb. 1812; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:976; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:219 [25 Feb. 1812]). On 17 Feb. 1812 Ezekiel Bacon submitted the report of the commee of ways & means to the United States House of Representatives. It consisted of a two-year plan for raising revenue through a new government loan as well as additional taxes. On 14 Mar. 1812 President James Madison signed legislation approving the loan, which was to be raised by public subscription and was not to exceed eleven million dollars at six percent annual interest (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (all editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers) description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 1050–6; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:694–5). On 20 Jan. 1812 treasury secretary Albert Gallatin had presented the House with a plan to raise revenue by both direct and indirect taxes (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Finance, 2:523–7). TJ wrote to Pleasants about the title to the beaverdam lands on 26 Jan. 1810. The plaintiffs in Ronald’s Heirs v. Barkley filed an amended bill in the United States Circuit Court for the Virginia District on 6 Apr. 1810, and Pleasants answered on 11 Sept. 1811 (Vi: USCC-RB, 13:608, 609). The complicated case was not decided until 1818 (Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 8:209–16).

1Manuscript: “pince.”

Index Entries

  • Bacon, Ezekiel; and federal revenue search
  • Bentley, William (of Virginia); and Beaverdam lands search
  • Eustis, William; as secretary of war search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as secretary of the treasury search
  • George, Prince Regent (later George IV, king of Great Britain); as Prince of Wales search
  • Harrison, Mr.; sends recommendations search
  • House of Representatives, U.S.; Ways and Means Committee search
  • James, Dr.; seeks military appointment search
  • Madison, James; and preparations for war search
  • Pleasants, James; and W. Ronald’s estate search
  • Pleasants, James; letters from search
  • Pleasants, James; TJ forwards application to search
  • Ronald, William; heirs of search
  • Ronald’s Heirs v. Barkley search
  • taxes; direct search
  • taxes; indirect search
  • Turpin, Beverly; military appointment of search
  • Turpin, Philip; recommends relatives search
  • Willis Creek tract (Cumberland Co.); title to lands at search