Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Peerce, 30 June 1801

From Thomas Peerce

george town june 30th 1801


With reluctance I trouble you with these lines fearing they may be offensive I still flatter my self your honour will not turn them off unnoticed when you hear that general Washington has spoke very favourable to some of my well wishers as well as to my Self tho it was with great persuasion I ever took courage to harbour any such thoughts at which time he promist to be a friend to me at any time I would apply for a place under goverment to get bread for my family which consists at this time of my wife and nine children the eldest not yet twelve years of age and my business which is the Saddling and harness makeing has been very slack for near four years and with dificulty can I feed my family and the time for their education lost waisting induces me to trouble you as it has pleased god to call him away before the removal of the goverment to this place hopeing if there should be any vacancy for a place in any of the apartments such as door keeper or messenger would gladly accept of it any recommen necessary by the respectablest and oldest inhabitants in the place can be had the foundation of these lines came from my fathers will which general Washington has seen where he wild his property to be divided between his children but was over sett by my eldest brother for want of one more witness being two only but hurtfuller to my feelings my father mother and several relations are buryed on the land in the old orchard about two hundread yards north of the presidents house which I have been told Lies in the presidents square and Some day will be removd and no one but my self in many miles perhaps that cares in what manner they are removd perhaps to fill up some valley which has checkt a strong notion I had of removeing to some new country where I might with the blessings of god get bread on better terms than here but still am fearfull that I impose on your honour and hope you will excuse me if it should be the case and would think it a great satisfaction to speak with you and get an answer at what time it suits your honour for me to apply

and remain your most obedient and very Hmble servant

Thomas Peerce

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Pierce Thos.” received 10 July and so recorded in SJL with notation “Off.”

In 1791 George Washington met with proprietors of land within the proclaimed boundaries of the District of Columbia to negotiate the conveyance of land to trustees for the building of the capital. Edward Peerce, likely Thomas Peerce’s eldest brother, conveyed land after the meeting with Washington in late March. A month later, Edward Peerce sold to Samuel Davidson land that was northwest of the president’s house and within president’s square, which was bounded by H, 15th, and 17th Streets. The land contained a graveyard and apple orchard (Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Presidential Series, 1987–, 12 vols. description ends , 8:24–5, 46–7n; RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 35 [1935], 88–90; RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 28 [1926], 134–5; Seale, The President’s House description begins William Seale, The President’s House, Washington, D.C., 1986, 2 vols. description ends , 1:162–3).

For more on the March 1791 agreement with landowners in the Federal District and public appropriations, see Opinion on George Walker’s Case, 14 June.

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