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To Thomas Jefferson from John Page, 1 June 1804

From John Page

Richmond June 1st. 1804


On receiving information on sunday last, which was relied on as authentic, that Thomas Logwood, who is convicted of felony in the Court of the United States, would attempt escape from prison and be powerfully aided in this attempt, the Executive thought it proper to order a strong guard that night, giving notice to the Chief Justice and the marshal of the District, that a guard would be continued till they should be pleased to give such directions for his safe custody as might be thought proper. On the receipt of this notice in a letter to the Chief Justice he called on me and received a Circumstantial verbal account of the information which had been communicated by letter. He approved of the cautionary measures pursued by the Executive—but said he did not recollect that the Court had any power to direct guards but that he would examine the laws and inform me how far he could act in this business. On the day following (Monday 28th. May) he sent the Marshall with a verbal Message on the subject, which I communicated to the Council at their first meeting which was on the 30th. on which I was advised “to write to you Sir, and inform you of these Circumstances, and request that the State may be relieved from the farther Care of Logwood and reimbursed the expences which may be incurred until the General Government shall take charge of their prisoner.” On that evening I wrote to the Chief Justice requesting that he would give me in Writing the substance of his verbal message by the Marshal, And this morning I received the inclosed letter from him.

I am Sir, &c.

John Page

FC (Vi: Executive Letterbook); in a clerk’s hand; at head of text: “The President of the United States.” Recorded in SJL as received 5 June. Enclosure: John Marshall to Page, 31 May from Richmond, informing Page that intelligence related to the prisoner’s possible escape would have “induced me to order a guard,” but that finding “no act of Congress to that effect,” Marshall does not believe he can exercise such an order; he advises Page to apply to the U.S. executive, “where alone the requisite authority exists” (Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, 12 vols. [Chapel Hill, 1974-2006], 6:289).

The conviction of thomas logwood was for counterfeiting. The Virginia council of State recommended that Logwood be confined with a constant guard of six men, with the expectation that the federal government would reimburse the state for any expenses incurred before Logwood’s sentencing. There was also a question as to whether he should ultimately be incarcerated in the state penitentiary; one councillor, Alexander McRae, insisted that a law passed in 1789, which gave the federal government access to the state’s jails, did not apply to the penitentiary, which was built in 1797 (same, 288-9; Page to TJ, 12 Apr.).

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