Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Nathaniel Ingraham’s Case, ca. 9 May 1803

Notes on Nathaniel Ingraham’s Case

[ca. 9 May 1803]

Ingraham’s case for carrying on the slave trade.

1801. Feb. action of q.t. institd. by J. W. Leonard
Nov. verdict & jdmt1 for 14,000 D. & costs. does not appear that any term of imprismt entered into the quantum of punmt adjudged.
act of 1794. c.11. §.4. inflicts 200. D. for every slave, by qui tam.
1800. c.51. respects slave trade betw. foreign ports, or in forn. vesls.

the conviction then has probably been under act of 94. which punished pecuniarily only, & not by imprismt.

the act of 1800. inflicted imprismt. maximum 2. years, in addition to pecuniary.

as the pecuniary punmt of 94. is evaded by the offender having no property, it seems right that he suffer the equivalent punmt by imprisonmt which the legislature found it necessary to provide, to prevent that very evasion by poverty which would now have takn place, that is, 2. y. imprisonmt.

 he must therefore suffer the imprismt of 2. y. which the law has declared to be2 not too high a measure, even when accompand by pecuniary forfeitures. & at the end of that term (Nov. 1803) let him apply to the judges & Atty of distr. who were in the cause for their statement & opn on his character, conduct, & all the circumstances of the transaction & whether in their judgment a sufficient punmt has been inflicted, or what longer term of imprisonmt will be proper as a terror to others meditating the crime of which he has been convicted.3 the condition of the offender merits no commiseration that of his wife, children & parents suffering for want of his aid, does: so also does the condition of the unhappy people whom he brought away from their native country, and whose4 wives, children & parents are5 now suffering for want of their aid & comfort.

see my lre to mr Ellery May 9. 1803.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 129:22262); undated; entirely in TJ’s hand; written on verso of Christopher Ellery to TJ, 27 Jan. 1803.

action of q.t.: that is, a qui tam action or “An action brought under a statute that allows a private person to sue for a penalty, part of which the government or some specified institution will receive” (Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., St. Paul, Minn., 2004 description ends , 1282). Under the terms of the 1794 statute regarding the slave trade, the pecuniary penalties against those convicted under the law were divided between the United States and the person or persons that sued for and prosecuted the case in federal court (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:349).

1TJ here canceled “£.”

2TJ here canceled “the proper.”

3TJ first wrote “the crime which is the subject of this law,” then altered the text to read as above.

4Preceding two words interlined in place of “their.”

5Word interlined.

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