Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Scarsbrook Wills, 9 May 1781

To John Scarsbrook Wills

Richmond May 9th. 1781


Bristol Brown and Thomas Kemp inform us that their Families, Cloth[es] and Household furniture are in Portsmouth, and desire a flag to go in for them. The true and sacred objects of Flags have been so much abused, that it is with Reluctance we allow one, but in Cases of real Importance. We think one may be admitted in this instance, provided a vigilant officer can be sent to conduct it, and to see that nothing but their families, and such Clothes and household furniture as they had before the coming of the enemy, be brought away. By this we mean particularly to guard against an illicit Commerce. You will be pleased, taking such time and opportunity as will best suit your Situation, to let them [have] a flag with a vigilant officer to conduct it for the purpose above expressed. I am &c.,

Tho Jefferson

FC (Vi); at head of text: “Colo. John Sck Wells” (John Scarsbrook Wills who represented Isle of Wight co. in the House of Delegates from 1776 to 1786 and in the Senate from 1787 to 1793. See Swem and Williams, “Register of the General Assembly of Va.,” description begins Appended to: Virginia State Library, Fourteenth Annual Report, 1917 description ends p. 446; Swem, Index description begins E. G. Swem, Virginia Historical Index description ends ). See Opie and Ball, 12 Apr. 1781.

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