Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph Wheaton to Thomas Jefferson, 20 July 1809

From Joseph Wheaton

Washington City July 20. 1809—


I cannot refrain again to make communication to you, and which I will thank you to take into consideration—you will please to recollect the various Statements I made to you respecting the road from Athen in Georgia to Fort Stoddert, I believed, I knew you wanted correct information, I therefore took proper means to obtain, & communicate it and set up truth against design, and Interest, which was so evident in David Meriwether & Col Hawkins—Mr Bloomfield who carried the mail from Coweta to Fort Stoddert During Burrs Conspiracy, & for which I was so highly charged in Mr Grangers report for its lying 9 days at coweta is now here, & Mr Granger has contracted with him to cut out the road, & make Bridges over all the Creeks, waggon width for which he is to receive $4500—Now Sir this proves that no fault could attach to him about the Mail, would you believe that, that mail carried a letter from Mr Granger ordering the P master to send it by express & not by the mail carriers, this is a fact & he detained it 5 days to procure one again the very Graham of Whom Mr Granger speaks of as the bearer of dispatches in the report agst me to you, was [. . .] by Mr Bloomfield from Fort Stoddert to Coweta in Jany and they Swam 17 Creeks at the risk of their lives to meet this mail, the other Messenger spoken of was the man who by letter informed Mr Bloomfield of his rider being frozen and Carried by Indians to Mr whites 20 miles South of Tuckababby—all which it is believed Mr Granger knew when he made his report to you—Such things to my mind Levelled against a man labouring to Serve the public, and Serve the views of his executive as I was doing deserves a name which I cannot find Language to express—and what has been the result of these things to me My reputation Stabbd by the assassins dagger, My wife & Children beggared—and am now told Sir that you put me out of my little office in the H of R. Sir I Leave it to you, to use your influence to do me Justice I have a right to refute it, I am an Injured insulted man. My family beggard for exertions the most faithful in my Countrys Service—I am free to declare the whole report which Mr Granger made to you Sir respecting my conducting that mail the last 9 months a misrepresentation—there was every exertion possible made, every expence incured by me to have made it answer your wish but the thing proved impossible—120 miles Pr day in Such a winter as has not been known in 20 years was found impossible—when it is now well known also that Col Hawkins never left his house notwithstanding your friendly letter to him, & the order of the Secretary of war to give me all his aid to fix the Stations—the report of the referees which I inclosed for your examination is proof of my fidility and exertion—you also know Sir that I reconciled the indians to the path, and it has now become the great travelling road—and as Soon as Mr Bloomfield will have made the Bridges—Such a number of Settlers will immediately pass with their waggons & effects to Tombegby & Allabama rivers, as will make that fine rich country a perfect Cotton garden, and1 place Such a Strength of inhabitants in the centre of that Indian Country as will induce the Indians to dispose of the whole on very easy terms and return to the west all which I fore saw must have this effect and for which object Sir, knowing the Indian character as I do it increased my Zeal, and determined that perseverance Should not be wanted—but Sir I lament, I mourn to have found men, that have obtained first your confidence, & then turned it to the purpose of peculation, and to their private advantage, and Such is the case with too many of the new and noisy pretended patriots, I regret2 I do not See more of the pure, patient, persevering, patriotism, of the revolution—Mr Granger now indeavors to force me to pay Mr Bloomfield in full [. . .] for carrying the mail altho his heavy complaint is against him from Coweta to Fort Stoddert, at the Same time Cuts me off 44 days pay for thirty two Horses & Seven men from this to appalachy River a thing to my Sense of Justice, unheard of in the annals of any Country, I have the Sense of Mr Duval on this Subject and which is directly adverse of his, yet I have been vexd with 7 Suits, and all the effects of vingence, persecution & malignancy of a Demon. I cannot Submit to persecution like this—give me truth, give me Justice, let me have the reward of fidility, not measured to me by the hand of eniquity—with Sincere wishes for your every comfort, and a long injoyment of the Prosperity of our Common Country—I am Dear Sir faithfully & affectionately your most Obedient & very Humble Servant

Joseph Wheaton—

RC (DLC); two words illegible; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 July 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

Joseph Wheaton (1755–1828), postal contractor and perennial office-seeker, was a native of New York who served as a junior officer in a Rhode Island regiment of the Continental army. He was sergeant at arms of the United States House of Representatives from 1789–1807, losing a bid for reelection in the latter year and unsuccessfully seeking reinstatement in May 1809. Wheaton served in the office of the quartermaster general during the War of 1812 and had a long-standing reputation as a political supporter of Aaron Burr (Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914 description ends , 583; 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 , 11th Cong., 1st sess., 57 [22 May 1809]; Washington National Intelligencer, 20 July, 4 Aug. 1809; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 3:502–4, 4:167–8; Washington United States’ Telegraph, 26 Nov. 1828).

On 15 Aug. 1806 Wheaton contracted with Postmaster General Gideon Granger to cut a post road and carry mail from Athens, Georgia, to Fort Stoddert in present-day Alabama. That autumn he fell ill and was unable to complete the contract, although he engaged others, including Samuel F. Bloomfield, to carry the mail. Service was slow, and Wheaton, who had received advance payment for his services, was charged with misuse of federal funds. Despite repeated petitions to Congress, he appears to have received no satisfaction in this particular case (Henry deLeon Southerland Jr. and Jerry Elijah Brown, The Federal Road through Georgia, the Creek Nation, and Alabama, 1806–1836 [1989], 22–32, 147–8; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 8:38, 158–9 [26 Nov. 1811, 4 Feb. 1812]).

For his initial statements, see Wheaton to TJ, 21 June 1805, 20 Sept., 9 Oct. 1806 (DLC). Wheaton’s appeals to TJ for assistance with regard to the charges against him began in the autumn of 1807, but TJ refused to intervene (Wheaton to TJ, 17 Oct. 1807, 29 July, 23 Aug. 1808, and TJ to Wheaton, 11 Sept. 1808 [DLC]). Although bloomfield had also been implicated in the investigation of mail abuse by Lieutenant Henry R. graham, Granger contracted with him in July 1809 to clear and improve the post road “from Chatahouchee to Alabama” (Southerland and Brown, Federal Road, 27–8; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:295–6).

1Manuscript: “an”

2Manuscript: “regreet.”

Index Entries

  • Alabama River search
  • Bloomfield, Samuel F.; and post road search
  • Burr, Aaron (1756–1836); alleged conspiracy of search
  • Coweta, Ga. search
  • Dearborn, Henry; as secretary of war search
  • Duvall, Gabriel; comptroller of the Treasury search
  • Fort Stoddert, Ala. search
  • Graham, Henry R. search
  • Granger, Gideon; as postmaster general search
  • Hawkins, Benjamin; and post road search
  • Indians; and post road search
  • Meriwether, David search
  • Post Office, U.S.; and post roads search
  • Post Office, U.S.; contracts with search
  • Tombigbee River search
  • Wheaton, Joseph; identified search
  • Wheaton, Joseph; letters from search
  • White, Mr. (of Tuckabatchee) search