Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Samuel Haines to Thomas Jefferson, 26 September 1810

From Samuel Haines

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sept. 26th 1810.

Venerable Sir,

Be good enough to excuse the freedom I take in troubling a personage of your illustrious character, by requesting a personal answer on a subject, which you may, perhaps, justly think totally unworthy your notice. But, Sir, necessity alone induces me thus to solicit the favor of obtaining information from the highest authority to decide the question in controvercy.

Sir, on the 11th Day of June 1802. it seems, an Order was issued by President Jefferson, predicated upon the Act of Congress of the 16th of March preceeding, “fixing the Military peace establishment,”—or rather on the section of said Act relative to the discharge of Supernumeraries of the Army; And the question is whether that Order (which appears to have been sent to every Military post in U.S.) discharged from the army Soldiers, who had deserted prior to the Date of said Order, and of course before the re-organization of the army in 1802? The Order seems, (literally construed) to imply that they are discharged. But I conversed (in this Town last Week) with Doctor Eustis, Secy of War on the subject, who is inclined to think that Deserters before said 11t June 1802, are still amenable to Martial Law, but has doubts in what manner they can be arrested and brought to punishment.

The ocassion, Sir of my enquiry, is the circumstance of my assisting a Non Commissioned Officer, of the U.S. Army, last year, in arresting a person, who deserted from the Army March 1. 1801, who escaped on his way to Fort-Constitution (in this neighborhood) and has since by the instigation of my political enemies, prosecuted me for a supposed false imprisonment,—the Action is now pending in a distant county of this State.—The Non-C. Officer, whom I aided, is dead.—And as the Suit has assumed some what of a party aspect—I should, in order to stop the affair, in transitu, and defeat the designs of the Federalists in this Town, who wish to injure my profession (that of the Law) be much pleased, if said Deserter could legally be re-taken, and punished by a Military tribunal. I have conversed with several Officers here, on the Subject and they differ in opinion.—

I, Sir, held the Commission of a first Lieut in the 4th Regt Infy of the late new Levy, one year; but resigned and resumed my practice of Law, in consequence of the “arrangement” with England 19th April 1809.—And Sir it will be, you may percieve, a disagreeable task to be compelled to defend against the attack of so vile a wretch as the Plff in said Action—especially as our court is peculiarly hostile to all Republicans.

If, Sir, You will condescend to communicate to me as soon as convenient the original intention of said Order as it respects Soldiers deserting previous to its Date, and whether you designed that such deserters should be thereby utterly discharged, and free from arrest and military punishment, you will extremely oblige your humble servant.

Not knowing of the existence of said Order at the time I arrested said soldier for desertion, I supposed he was equally liable with other deserters from the old Army, whom I had taken, while in the Service.—

Your Opinion, Sir, will be conclusive in the construction of said Order, as you were the Author of the same, and of course know it’s true design.

Republicanism as yet holds the ascendancy in this State.—We have elected two Members of Congress of correct politicks, but owing to the great negligence of the Republican Farmers, the other three are not chosen from either side.—

We have favorable news from France, which will probably strengthen the cause of our country, and be a flattering comment on your distinguished neutral policy.

From my first year in College (in 99) I have seen so much patriotism and wisdom displayed, in what [has?] been called the “Jeffersonian policy,” you will be rem[em]bered by me, (and I hope by my posterity) as the second Saviour of our Republick, and of the liberties of the people. Your purchase of Louisania will be more beneficial to mankind, (and especially to the U. States) than any single act of any man living, on the record of time.—

Accept, Sir, my sincere acknowlegments1 for the illustrious services you have rendered your country, as well as for the great good your examples will do the rising generations of American Statesmen, and philosophers;—

and in the mean time the assurance of my high respect,

Samuel Haines—

RC (DLC); torn at seal; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq:”; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Oct. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Samuel Haines (1780–1825), a native of Canterbury, New Hampshire, received an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1803 and studied law in New York City. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in June 1808 in the 4th Infantry Regiment, United States Army, resigning in June 1809. Haines practiced law in Portsmouth and Sandbornton, New Hampshire. He published Independence Day orations in 1808 and 1809 and a defense in 1812 of his legal representation of four underage soldiers discharged from the army, which he claimed had prevented his return to the army with the rank of major. By 1816 Haines resided in Alabama Territory, where he was appointed postmaster for Blakely in 1818. He died in Providence, Rhode Island (Charles H. Bell, The Bench and Bar of New Hampshire [1894], 412–3; Concord Courier of New Hampshire, 18 Feb. 1802; General Catalogue of Dartmouth College and the Associated Schools, 1769–1925 [1925], 109; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:486; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 10:86 [19 Dec. 1816]; DNA: RG 28, RAP; Haines, Letter of Samuel Haines, Esquire, in Vindication of Himself against the Unfounded and Slanderous Charges of Capt. John B. Walbach [n.p., 1812]; Providence Gazette, 17 Aug. 1825).

section 9 of the 16 Mar. 1802 Military Peace Establishment Act stated that supernumerary officers, noncommissioned officers, musicians, and privates were to be discharged from the army by 1 Apr. 1802 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:132, 134). Haines assisted non commissioned officer Dudley Conner in arresting Jonathan Eastman for desertion in August 1809. In response to the arrest, Eastman began a suit against Haines the following April. In April 1811, when Haines came before the Superior Court at Hopkinton, neither Eastman nor New Hampshire attorney general William K. Atkinson appeared, and a nolle prosequi was entered. Because Atkinson had continued to prosecute the case even after Haines had secured proof of Eastman’s desertion, Haines alleged that the suit was a Federalist plot to discredit him (Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette, 4 June 1811). in transitu: “in transit” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). Late in TJ’s administration, Congress passed a new levy increasing the regular army to five regiments of infantry (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (all editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers) description ends , 10th Cong., 1st sess., 2849–52 [12 Apr. 1808]). The arrangement with Great Britain was the suspension of the Non-Intercourse Act of 1 Mar. 1809 and the anticipated withdrawal of the Orders in Council. New Hampshire elected four Republicans and three Federalists to the Twelfth Congress (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, 1989 description ends ; Washington National Intelligencer, 14 Sept. 1810).

1Manuscript: “acknowelgments.”

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; Peace Establishment Act (1802) search
  • Atkinson, William K. search
  • Conner, Dudley search
  • Eastman, Jonathan search
  • Eustis, William; as secretary of war search
  • Federalist party; in New England search
  • Great Britain; Non-Intercourse Act reimposed on search
  • Great Britain; Orders in Council (1807) search
  • Haines, Samuel; and military desertion case search
  • Haines, Samuel; identified search
  • Haines, Samuel; letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; acts passed during presidency search
  • law; martial search
  • martial law; and batture controversy search
  • military; Peace Establishment Act (1802) search
  • New England; Federalists in search
  • New England; Republicans in search
  • Non-Intercourse Act; reimposed on Great Britain search
  • Republican party; in New England search