George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Sarah Leitch, 25 January 1791

From Sarah Leitch

[25 January 1791]

To the Honorable the President and Congress of the United
States of America

Sarah Leitch, and James Frisby Leitch Infants and Children of Major Andrew Leitch by this their humble petition beg leave to Shew.

That their said father being a Merchant and possessing but a small Capital was in a great degree dependent on his personal exertions for the support of himself and his family, but actuated by Zeal in the cause of this Country entered into the Army of these States, and in the year 1776 Sacrificed his Life in executing the orders of his General—Your Petitioners on this Subject can only relate the information they have received from others, but, for the truth of these facts they are told, they may appeal with confidence to the knowledge of the Commander in Chief.

Your Petitioners further shew that the additional Misfortune of losing their Mother soon afterwards left them altogether dependent upon the bounty of friends, and while they contemplate these Melancholy Events they cannot but hope they shall receive from the Humanity and generosity of this Government the same compassion that they are informed others have experienced in similar circumstances—They humbly intreat therefore that the half pay of the Commission possessed by their said Father, may be extended to your Petitioners commencing from the date of his Death, or for such other provision as you may think most proper.

Sarah Leitch on behalf
of herself, and her Infant brother
James Frisby Leitch

LS, MdHi.

Sarah Leitch and her brother James Frisby Leitch were the children of Andrew Leitch (c.1750–1776), a Dumfries, Va., merchant who served on the Prince William County committee of correspondence before the Revolution. GW stayed with him at his home in Dumfries in March 1775, and Leitch visited GW at Mount Vernon in April 1775 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:313, 322). He was commissioned a captain in the 3d Virginia Regiment in February 1776 and apparently was promoted to major in Aug. 1776 (Scribner and Tarter, Revolutionary Virginia, description begins William J. Van Schreeven et al., eds. Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence. A Documentary Record. 7 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1973–83. description ends 6:214). He died on 1 or 2 Oct. 1776 of wounds received at the Battle of Kip’s Bay on 16 Sept. 1776 (see General Orders, 17 Sept. 1776).

Sarah Leitch’s petition was laid before Congress on 25 Jan. 1791 and was referred to the secretary of war for report. Knox reported on 15 Feb. 1791 in favor of granting the request. The House of Representatives resolved to grant the petition on 26 Feb. 1791 (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:715, 744). It is not clear whether this resolution was carried out. On 30 June 1834 Congress resolved to pay “to the legal representatives of the late Margaret Leitch, widow of the late Major Andrew Leitch, a major in the army of the revolution . . . the seven years’ half pay” to which “widows and children were entitled by the resolution of Congress of the twenty-fourth of August seventeen hundred and eighty” (6 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 590).

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