Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 16 November 1792

To George Washington

Nov. 16. 1792.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inform the President that the papers from Johanna Lucia Henrietta Hinrichsen, a Danish subject, state that she is entitled to inherit from her brother Daniel Wriesburg deceased two tracts of land in New Jersey and New York and she petitions Congress, and the states of New Jersey and New York to have justice done her, offering, if they will pay her the reasonable rents during her life and an indemnification for the detention hitherto, that she will cede to them the remainder after her death for the establishment of a charitable institution for the benefit of poor military persons, the plan of which she leaves to the President of the U.S. to settle.

Th: Jefferson is of opinion that the incompetence of the General government to legislate on the subject of inheritances is a reason the more against the President’s becoming the channel of a petition to them: but that it might not be amiss that Th:J. should inclose to the Governors of New Jersey and N. York the petitions addressed to their states, as some advantages are offered to them, of which they will take notice, or not, at their pleasure. If the President approves of this, and will return the petitions they shall be inclosed accordingly.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); endorsed by Tobias Lear. PrC (DLC); overwritten by a later hand. Tr (Lb in DNA: RG 59, SDC). Recorded in SJPL.

Tobias Lear promptly returned Johanna Hinrichsen’s petitions to TJ with an instruction from the President to forward them to the governors of New York and New Jersey (Lear to TJ, 16 Nov. 1792, RC in DLC, endorsed by TJ as received that date; PrC in DNA: RG 59, MLR; FC in Lb in same, SDC). TJ carried out this directive on the following day by transmitting the petitions with brief identical covering letters to Governors George Clinton and William Paterson (PrCs in DLC; FCs in Lb in RG 360, DL). A response from Clinton has not been found, but in a letter of 22 Jan. 1793 Paterson informed TJ that he had submitted Hinrichsen’s petition to the attorney general of New Jersey “with Directions to investigate her Claim, and, if proper or necessary, to institute Suits” (RC in DNA: RG 59, MLR).

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