Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Richard Claiborne, 24 March 1781

From Richard Claiborne

Richmond, 24th. March 1781.


I inclose to your Excellency the whole proceedings respecting Mr. Boswell the Express Rider who was some time since discharged from the public service.

No. 1 is a copy of the charges given by Colo. Jones, and written by your Excellency. No. 2 is a copy of my Letter to Mr. Elliott to discharge Mr. Boswell. No. 3 is a Copy of Mr. Elliotts answer to my Letter. No. 4 is a Copy of a receipt given by Colo. Jones to Mr. Boswell for the Letter. No. 5 and 6 are copies of Letters from Mr. Lamb and Mr. Mitchell respecting Mr. Boswell. And No. 7 is a Copy of Mr. Boswell’s reply to the charges alledged against him.

From what is said, your Excellency will be able to judge, and determine accordingly.

I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s most Obedient Hble: Servt.,

Rd. Claiborne DQMr. S. V.

RC (Vi); addressed and endorsed. Enclosures (Vi): (1) Extract of a letter from TJ to Claiborne, printed above under 5 Mch.; (2) copy of Claiborne’s letter to George Elliott, 5 Mch., enclosing “papers from his Excellency” on the “pernicious practices of some of our Express-Riders” and ordering that the “Fellow mentioned” be “immediately put out of his Post and one who may be depended on procured”; also directing that any others failing in their duty be made “an example of by an immediate dismission, and never suffering them to be employed in any public business again”; (3) copy of a letter from George Elliott to Claiborne, 22 Mch., stating that the bearer was William Boswell, who insisted on seeing Claiborne “to reinstate his character with you as he thinks himself much injured,” and adding: “I can only say as a man employed by us he has a right to be heard on the occasion or it will be a reflection on us in the eyes of others we may want, if they are disgraced unheard”; (4) copy of a receipt, dated “at half after three O Clock,” 19 Feb. 1781, from John Jones acknowledging that he had received “of William Boswell a Letter to Major General Greene” which he promised “to deliver to the Genl. tomorrow without fail”; (5) copy of a letter of 13 Mch. 1781 from Abram Mitchell to George Elliott, with a postscript by Thomas Mitchell confirming the facts set forth in the letter—that is, that when Boswell received the packet of letters his horse was tired, that he tried to obtain another in the neighborhood but without success, and that on his return he “was making complaint of his not having in his power to forward the papers for want of a Horse (in presence of Colo. Jones) who very kindly offered to take the papers and deliver them”; (6) copy of a letter from Richard Lamb to Claiborne, 14 Mch. 1781, denying that he had appointed Boswell to save him from the draft, since even “at this time he is 12 months under age,” and stating that Jones’ false accusations were only made in “spite and malice against me”; (7) copy of William Boswell’s statement, undated, in part as follows: “I deny that I insisted on Mr. Jones’s taking the Letters for it was his own free offer and I knew him very well or else I should not have trusted him with the Letters … he told me that he was going strait to Genl Greens head quarters and wou’d see him and deliver the Letters to him the next day without fail.”

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