Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Cook to Thomas Jefferson, 31 March 1814

From William Cook

Monticello (Geo) 31st March 1814.


I have been induced through motives of humanity to investigate the claim of an old revolutionary soldier, who alledges that by the misfortune of losing his papers he has been deprived of a pension formerly allowed him by Government: for a number of years, He is by the name of Benjamin Fry, and informs me that he served in the 14th Virginia Regiment: commanded at that time by Col. Charles Lewis, and that after receiving the wound for which he was considered as entitled to a pension, you drew the pension for him and was the chief instrument in causing him to be provided for in that way, That you drew for him in the year 1778.1 at which time he lived in Albemarle County, afterwards he removed into Amherst and John Gilmer drew for him the five years immediately subsequent; that if not forgotten he is known to you, his father having lived with yours, perhaps in the capacity of an Overseer or mechanic, I have been thus particular in order to refresh your memory of him—he is now an old man, has a large and needy family, and it will be indeed an Act of humanity and benevolence to assist the old gentleman in obtaining what he has been so unfortunately deprived of, and what he is So justly intitled to, I shall be very thankful if you will write me on this subject giving me all the information in your power, and particular any thing which may serve as a clue to obtain a reestablishment of the lost papers, In writing to a person of your standing Sir upon an Ordinary subject some apology from me would be proper, being wholly unknown to you. But when I am pleading the cause of humanity I know you will lend a willing ear, and give such aid as may be in your power, I am very respectfully

Yr Obt servant

William Cook

RC (MHi); between dateline and salutation: “The Hon. Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Apr. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

William Cook, attorney, served as postmaster of Monticello, Georgia, from about the end of 1809 until at least 1819. He served in the Georgia legislature, 1819–21, and was still living in Monticello when he unsuccessfully applied to become a district attorney in the Florida Territory in 1822 (Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States 1782–1811 [1994], 111; Table of Post-Offices in the United States, with the Names of the Post-Masters, the Counties and States in which they are situated [Washington, 1819], 41; Georgia Department of Archives and History, Georgia’s Official Register, 1925, comp. Ruth Blair [1925], 283; Cook to George R. Gilmer, 7 Dec. 1822 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1817–25]; Stephen F. Miller, The Bench and Bar of Georgia: Memoirs and Sketches [1858], 2:250; Tad Evans, Georgia Newspaper Clippings, Jasper County Extracts [1999– ], vol. 1).

Benjamin Fry received a pension from Virginia beginning in 1778 after losing the use of his arm due to a wound he received at the Battle of Brandywine. By 1813 he was receiving $60 a year from the federal government. As an invalid pensioner Fry was receiving $96 a year in 1818 (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends [1778 sess.], 15 [19 May 1778]; Letter from the Secretary of War communicating a Transcript of the Pension List of the United States [Washington, 1813], 44; Message from the President of the United States, transmitting a Report of the Secretary of War, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate, “To cause to be laid before them, a list of all the Pensioners of the United States” [Washington, 1818], 160).

1Reworked from “1779.”

Index Entries

  • Cook, William; and B. Fry’s Revolutionary War pension search
  • Cook, William; identified search
  • Cook, William; letters from search
  • Fry, Benjamin; Revolutionary War pension of search
  • Fry, Mr. (father of Benjamin Fry); employed by P. Jefferson search
  • Gilmer, John (1748–1771); and B. Fry’s Revolutionary War pension search
  • Jefferson, Peter (TJ’s father); employees of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Lewis, Charles, Jr. (TJ’s uncle); Revolutionary War regiment of search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Revolutionary War; TJ assists with pensions search