Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Huntington, 24 October 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Williamsburg Oct. 24. 1779.


Some time in June I received from Mr. Jay a letter desiring I would have evidence collected on the subject of some Frenchmen who were said to have been murdered in cold blood by the English during their invasion of this commonwealth in the Spring. Several disappointments have retarded this matter much more than I could have wished, tho’ we have paid repeated attention to it. I now do myself the honour of inclosing you the depositions taken on that subject, and am with much respect Your most obedient & most humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: PCC, No. 71, i). Addressed in TJ’s hand. Endorsed by Charles Thomson: “Letter from Govr. Jefferson of Virginia Oct 24. 1779 Read Nov 10.” Enclosure: Transcript of testimony obtained in Norfolk co. in Sep.-Oct. 1779 from Peter and Mary Brown, John Cherry, and Alexander Bell respecting the killing of certain unnamed Frenchmen in the British raid on Portsmouth in May 1779. At foot of transcript TJ added a statement certifying the attestations signed by James Taylor and William Robinson, justices of the peace, and stating that “the foregoing depositions were taken … on my order.”

A file copy of the letter from Pres. Jay to Gov. Henry, dated 26 May 1779, is in DLC: PCC, No. 14, p. 119; it enclosed a resolve of Congress of 24 May requesting the governor of Virginia to inquire into alleged British atrocities in Virginia (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xiv, 640).

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