Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Harrison, [ca. September 1784]

To Benjamin Harrison

[ca. Sep. 1784]

Sir

The bearer hereof Colo. Le Maire who was in the service of the Comw. of Virga. during the late war informs me that he is about to apply to Your Excellency on some occasion on which he would wish you to be satisfied of his rank and services in that state, and that the capture of his person effects and papers by the enemy has put it out of his power to produce to you his commission which would have been the most authentic of all vouchers. I therefore take the liberty of troubling your Excellency with information that he was a Colonel of Dragoons in the state of Virga. under a Commission which I signed myself as Governor of that state in the latter part of the year 1779 or beginning of 1780. I have the pleasure further to testify that they found him faithful zealous and active and that his services were so usefull to that state that besides the common allowances to officers of his rank they made him a donation of 2000 acres of land which he is now entitled to receive. To obtain the actual location and title to this it is very expedient that he should attend himself during the next session of their assembly which will meet early in Nov. and rise before Christmas. The duty incumbent on every one to bear evidence to the truth when required will I hope apologize for the liberty I have taken, which I have done too with the greater pleasure as it has furnished me with an occasion of giving you my particular assurances of respect and attachment and of expressing those high sentiments of esteem with which I have the honor to be your Excy’s.

Dft (MoSHi); with several deletions and corrections involving form rather than substance; endorsed: “Govr. of Virginia.” In view of Le Maire’s intention to arrive in Virginia before or “during the next session of … assembly which will meet early in Nov. and rise before Christmas,” it is very likely that he decided soon after 20 Aug. (when TJ enclosed Le Maire’s letter to Harrison) to make a voyage to Virginia. The present draft, therefore, must have been composed ca. Sep. 1784. It is also very likely that this letter of introduction was canceled or set aside when it became certain that Le Maire could probably not get to Virginia during the meeting of the General Assembly if it rose before Christmas (see TJ’s letters to various Virginians under 11 Nov. 1784; also Le Maire to TJ, 15 Nov. 1784 and 30 Apr. 1785).

Le Maire finally arrived in Virginia early in 1785 and presented his case to Patrick Henry, who had succeeded Harrison as governor on 30 Nov. 1784. TJ’s commission to Le Maire as “Lieutenant Colonel of Dragoons, By Brevet,” issued in pursuance of a resolution of General Assembly of 5 Nov. 1779, was reissued by Henry on 11 Feb. 1785 and “Registered, as an Exemplification of the Original … which he lost by being captured by the Enemy on his Return to Europe” (Tr, Vi). On 26 Feb. 1785 Le Maire petitioned the Governor and Council for a settlement of his claims (Vi; CVSP description begins Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond description ends , iv, 13–4), but it was not until the following Nov. that Henry transmitted the petition to the House of Delegates. The House resolved that the Governor and Council should examine the claim and make a “just and right” settlement. On 16 Jan. 1786 Le Maire once more appealed to Henry “to listen to the voice of sorrow” and urged an allowance of £300 to enable him to return to France, adding that “Mr. Jefferson, and the Count de Vergennes, who persuaded me to come over, will join me in thanks” (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 40, 51; MS in French and Tr in English of Le Maire’s petition in Vi; CVSP description begins Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond description ends , iv, 81–2). Three days later the House resolved to allow the full claim as settled by the executive, and the Senate agreed on 20 Jan. 1786 (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 149, 152). TJ’s Account Book shows that on 12 Nov. 1784 he “lent Colo. Le Maire 400f. and gave him an order on Mr. Madison junr. of Orange for 10 guineas.”

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