Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 13 January 1808

Navy Department 13th January 1808


Some days since I had the honor of communicating to you verbally that there were employed in the service of the United States, six hundred & seventy seamen more than the number estimated for by the Navy Department for the present year. For the purpose of giving you a more distinct view of the subject, I herewith transmit to you the enclosed paper which exhibits the details as far as they can at this time be ascertained.

It hence results that the number of seamen now in service ought at once to be reduced to the scale of the Estimate, or that Congress ought to be apprized of the necessity of increasing the appropriation.

I avail myself of this occasion to repeat to you that every gun boat in service requires twenty four able & ordinary seamen—& that of course the sixty nine gun boats now in service & ready for service would require

The Constitution requires 300
The Chesapeake has on board 300
The Brig Wasp & Ketches have on board 220
Now at the Navy Yard here 80
The number authorized by Law is 1425

It thus appears that the gun boats cannot be manned so as to be fit for actual service, unless the Executive be authorized to employ more seamen than can now be legally employed.

I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir, yr ob servt.

Rt Smith

Exhibit of the number of able seamen ordinary seamen & Boys now in service.

   at New York
Frig. Constitution & Brig Wasp 160
3 ketches & 31 gun boats 385
   at Norfolk
Frig. Chesapeake 300
1 ketch & 16 gun boats 400
   at New Orleans
10 gun boats 200
At the Navy Yard here 80
   at Charleston S.C.
3 gun boats 70.
The number estimated for is 925
The number in service exceeds the number estimated for 670
The number authorized by Law is 1425.
The number in service exceeds the number authorized by Law 170.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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