Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Gean Leach, 17 July 1801

From Gean Leach

Geo Town
July 17 1801

The very distressed Situation of myself & Children for the Confinement of my Husband Emboldens me to write you these few lines respecting the papers I had The Honor of handing a few days Since Stating to your Exellency the Cause of my Husbands Confinement & the distressd Circumstances his family is in. Praying you for his relief I hope your Excelly has determind in his favour. in which Hope I wait you Excellys determination, which will be the saving of myself & poor Little ones from asking Charity from the Charitable: May Him that Rules above preserve you. Health & long Life is the prayer of—

Gean Lach

RC (DNA: RG 59, GPR); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Leach Jane” received 20 July and so recorded in SJL.

Confinement of my husband: Thomas Leach, Jr., a former U.S. soldier, was convicted in June by the District of Columbia Circuit Court of assault and battery against Thomas Corcoran, a district magistrate, and for resisting arrest. He was ordered to pay $50 and court costs and to give security for his good behavior for the next two years, and to be jailed until he complied with the judgment. In an undated petition to TJ, Leach explained his conduct was due to “inebriation, a total ignorance of the criminality of his conduct and a mistaken idea that he acted in self defence.” Unable to provide for his wife and children due to his confinement, Leach hoped that his remorse and subsequent good conduct would “induce the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy in his favor” (RC in DNA: RG 59, GPR; in an unidentified hand; at head of text: “To his Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”). Leach’s petition was supported by a memorial of Daniel Reintzel and ten others recommending Leach as “a proper object for having the fine and costs of suit aforesaid remitted him” (MS in same; in same hand as petition above; signed by 11 supporters). In a statement dated 11 July, U.S. Attorney John Thomson Mason elaborated on Leach’s case, explaining that after his attack on Corcoran he had been beaten by a mob “until his life was dispaired of.” Mason believed Leach to be “an honest, industrious, useful man,” whose poverty prevented any prospect of his release from confinement “but by Executive interference, or the voluntary contribution of his neighbours” (MS in same; in Mason’s hand and signed by him). A statement by J. Weems, also dated 11 July, likewise recommended Leach “to the Mercy of the President of the United States,” asserting that Leach had already suffered greatly and that “his contrition has been great & sincere” (MS in same; in Weems’s hand and signed by him). For TJ’s pardon of Leach, see Corcoran to TJ, 17 Oct.

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