Thomas Jefferson Papers

Lucy F. Smith to Thomas Jefferson, 23 May 1813

From Lucy F. Smith

Richd May 23d 1813

Dear Sir

In consequence of the long and earnest desire of my son Walter, to enter the Navy, and the advice of his friends seconding his views, I have consented1 to gratify him—

Presuming on the friendship which subsisted between yourself and his father, Meriwether Jones, I will take the liberty of requesting your assistance in procuring him a Midshipmans warrant—his friends are respectable and numerous, from all of whom, he has obtain’d flattering recommendations—among them are the Governor, Judge Cabell, Judge Brockenborough, and the Speaker of the H of Representatives.—

If the affection of a mother does not blind me, I think him in every respect qualified to fulfil the duties of the appointment he wishes—however, shou’d you require it, I believe his character can sustain the most minute scrutiny—Col Monroe is well acquainted with him—

I hope sir you will excuse the liberty I take in requesting such a favor—nothing but the confidence of your well wishes toward him, and your ability to render him any service, cou’d have induc’d me—I had myself intended him for different pursuits—but his inclinations leading him from his infancy to a Military life, and the scantiness of his patrimony combin’d, I am induc’d to think the station to which he aspires the most eligible—he is about 17 years of age, and has hitherto had every advantage of education—By writing to the Secretary of the Navy, and any other friend, you will confer an obligation on

Yours very respectfully

Lucy F Smith


Mr Girardin who I understand is living in your neighbourhood, can give you any information respecting my son,

RC (MoSHi: TJC); endorsed by TJ as received 28 May 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

Lucy Franklin Read Jones Smith (ca. 1773–1845) was married in 1789 to Meriwether Jones, a newspaper publisher and politician whom TJ appointed United States commissioner of loans for Virginia in 1804. After he died in 1806, she married George William Smith, whose service as governor of Virginia ended with his death in the Richmond Theatre fire of 1811 (Lower Norfolk County Virginia Antiquary 2 [1897]: 28–31; Richmond Virginia Independent Chronicle, 11 Feb. 1789; Richmond Enquirer, 22 Aug. 1806; John P. Kennedy, Memoirs of the Life of William Wirt [1849], 2:96; Richmond Enquirer, 18 July 1845; Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser, 25 July 1845).

Walter F. Jones (ca. 1796–1841), the son of Lucy F. Smith, entered the United States Navy as a midshipman on 11 June 1814 and resigned 2 Nov. 1821. In 1823 he was appointed a judge advocate for the navy at Norfolk, and in 1830 he was named postmaster of that city. Jones was removed from office in 1839 after the United States government claimed that he owed the public more than $5,000 in delinquent postal accounts. The government brought suit against him the following year, but Jones died before the case was heard. After trial in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and an appeal to the Supreme Court, Jones and his sureties were cleared of wrongdoing (Callahan, U.S. Navy description begins Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, 1901, repr. 1969 description ends , 303; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 140; Lewis Hampton Jones, Captain Roger Jones, of London and Virginia [1891], 54; Walter F. Jones to James Monroe, 7 Apr. 1823, DNA: RG 45, MLRSN; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 23 June 1823, 22 Apr. 1841; Benjamin C. Howard, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, 2d ed. [1903], vol. 7 [48 U.S. Reports description begins Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, 1790–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with U.S. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends ], 681–92; Richmond Enquirer, 4 May 1841).

The governor was James Barbour, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives was Henry Clay, and the secretary of the navy was William Jones.

1Manuscript: “sonsented.”

Index Entries

  • Barbour, James; and W. F. Jones search
  • Brockenborough, William; and W. F. Jones search
  • Cabell, William H.; and W. F. Jones search
  • Clay, Henry; and W. F. Jones search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and W. F. Jones search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Jones, Meriwether search
  • Jones, Walter F.; identified search
  • Jones, Walter F.; recommended for naval appointment search
  • Jones, William (1760–1831); as secretary of the navy search
  • Monroe, James; and W. F. Jones search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; applications to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Smith, Lucy Franklin Read Jones; and son W. F. Jones search
  • Smith, Lucy Franklin Read Jones; identified search
  • Smith, Lucy Franklin Read Jones; letters from search
  • women; letters from; L. F. Smith search