Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Anna Young, 21 January 1802

From Anna Young

Norwich Jany 21st 1802

Respected Sir

This Comes With my Greatest respects To You and To request A Favor of You for thus Intruding on You My Necessity must plead for me and be my Excuse I have Tryed Every method that I could In my reduced Situation or I Should not now presumed To ask your advice I have adviced The best of men and they all tell me that it is right I Should have What I have been Trying for—Which is Seven Years half pay Which By A Voluntary act of Congress, Was Given to the Widows or Orphan Children of Officers or Soldiers that died In Service My Father Col John Durkee Engaged In the Late American War with Great Britain and Served till his Death which was a Short time before the peace took place, Lost his right hand in Monmouth Action remained a Cripple till Death—his Widow, my mother after his Death Employed Capt. Benjn Durkee to go on to Congress and Settle his Continental accounts which Done he Petitioned the Assembly of the State of Connecticut as Every State payed there own Officers and Got a Grant but before The Notes Were Issued there Came an Order from John Pierce pay Master Genl. to have it Stopped till he Could have a Matter Rectified as he Said the Said Benjn Durkee had got Some final Settlement Certificates from him by Fraud My Mother Died about that Time and I being In Trouble did not att that time know what the Mistake was And about The Same time I Lost my Husband and Left With three small Children To Support by my Industry as the property my Husband Left me was Chiefly In Continental money and I Trusting that I would be made good Keep it to the amount of 6000 Dollars till it was good for Nothing My Father Left No property but Died in full belief that his family Would be benefited by the half pay that failing I was reduced To great Poverty and Still remain So I then had three Brothers they Went to Sea two of them Were Lost the Other Has not been here this Sixteen Years and I know not Whether he be living or not—I after a While Thought I would try to Inform myself, what was the reason of the paye being stopped I wrote to the Comptroller att Hartford and he wrote me as above by order of John Pierce as above I then Wrote To Govr Trumbull then A Member of Congress for his Advice and he wrote me Word To take out Administration and Send on a man With proper Documents and he thought I should recover It but In my Circumstances I Could not do that I had Some Offer if I Would give one half but my Heart recoiled att the Idea of giving away so much that My father Earned with his Life and I had the Idea and Still have that I ought to have without Expence I then wrote To Genl Washington asking his Advice and he Very politely Answered my Letter and said he should be Willing to advise me if he What method it Was best for me to pursue but as he had never turned his Attention To Business of that kind he did not but referred me to some member of Congress as they would be most likely to know what to advise To there being None but Mr Roger Griswould that I had any knowledge of I wrote To him for his advice and Inclosed General Washingtons to me In his and Desired the favor of him to advise me and To return the Inclosed but have never recieved neither after Waiting sometime and Congress had rose he returned home and I heard nothing from him I Applied To Genl Ebenr. Huntington and he very readily gave me his advice and accordingly I Administered on the Estate1 of my mother and Got Elisha Hyde Esqr To petition for me and it Was Continued three Sessions then A Comittee appointed and they Say that as the State of Connecticut and the United States have Adjusted their Accounts it must be Determined2 by Congress Esquire Hyde then told me that he believed he Could get Mr Griswould and Mr Goddard to Undertake it without a fee and Since Told me that he had mentioned it to them but Said that Mr Griswould spoke Very faint as most people of his Calling do Where there No Money in View Mr Goddard Was Willing To do What he Could for which I am much obliged To him but being no more acquainted With him than With you I have Ventured To ask advice of you trusting that you are Willing To assist the Injured and have justice Done to Every Individual I wish to know if there is no way that I can get it without Expence—It is Now Fifteen Years that I have been a Trying To get hold of it and, No one is more Necessitous than I am and if I was not I think it my Just Due My family I Venture To say has done as much to gain Independance as any one according to Their abilities My Father Was I believe if ever there was a true Republican friend To his Country he was one he served also In the old french War spent Life and property in the Late Contest of America I had att one time A Husband A Father two brothers in the Service since I have been Deprived of them all My Life Since the Commencment of the War has been almost one scene of Sorrow Disappointment and poverty—The Husband that I have now is a true republican but an old man and A good Deal Infirm and has brought a large family of Children had a Great Deal of sickness and we are both Too old to do much hard Work our Children are Willing to do what they can for us but are not in a Situation to Do much as Some are Married and families own other Apprentices my Son has four Years Yet to serve and my Daughters have Enough to Do to support themselves and I do not Like this reversing of Nature I had rather Grant Ten favors to a Child than to ask one and if I had my right It Would Enable me To for myself & husband and them too and I hope if in your power you will be kind Enough to Assist me in getting it they Can Certainly say yes or no and not keep me in Suspense any Longer I Cannot help repeating that I Cannot be Willing To give up half of it to any one I think I had rather the Public would have it but I want it myself as it is very Disagreable to me to think and God forbid it should be that after working through so Long as my husband and I have we should become objects of public Charity which I See no avoiding if our health should Decline My Husband knows nothing of my writing to you he would not be willing I write in this way but if he had money to do with No one would be readier to do any thing for another than he would for me but I Lay aside all pride of that kind as it is nothing Criminal to ask for what belongs to us if we know where to ask and I hope you will be able to Inform me and Pardon any thing amiss and impute It to the Weakness of an old Woman that has not much Education and what she has was given her Upwards of forty Years ago if you will be kind Enough to grant me the favor of Your advice I shall take it as a great favor and if a Heart overflowing with Gratitude for it is any Compensation you have a full reward In the mean Time I am with the Greatest respect

Your most Obet Humble Servt.

Anna Young

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “To the Honle. Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Feb. and so recorded in SJL; undated note by Henry Dearborn to TJ below inside address: “Sir on application to the Connecticut Gentlemen in Congress, I am informed that no relief can be had in the case of Mrs. Young, that her case is so effectually foreclosed, as to render all further attempts in her favour vain. H. Dearborn.”

Anna Young (1753–1839) of Norwich, Connecticut, was the eldest child of John and Martha Wood Durkee. Her first husband, Dr. Dominic Tauzin, died at sea in 1782. She subsequently married Norwich attorney John Young, who died in 1805. Young went to Philadelphia in 1810, then moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1815. She eventually migrated with her grandchildren to Illinois, where she resided for the remainder of her life. In 1812, Congress finally settled her father’s long-standing claim and awarded Anna, as John Durkee’s sole surviving heir, his seven years half-pay with interest (Nathaniel B. Curran, “Anna Durkee Tauzin Young, 1753–1839: Connecticut Lady, Illinois Pioneer,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 77 [1984], 94–100; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Claims, 1:417; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 6:110).

A Voluntary act of Congress: on 24 Aug. 1780, the Continental Congress resolved that their resolution of 15 May 1778, granting half-pay for seven years to army officers who served to the end of the war, was to be extended to the widows of officers who died during their term of service. If the deceased officer had no surviving widow, then the half-pay was to be given to his orphaned children (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , 17:773).

John Durkee was a veteran of the French and Indian War and a leading figure in the settlement of the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, founding the town of Wilkes-Barre. An active patriot, he served as a colonel in the Continental army and saw extensive action before being severely wounded at the battle of Monmouth. He died in 1782 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

three brothers: John, Jr., Phineas, and Isaac Barré Durkee (Curran, “Anna Durkee Tauzin Young,” 94–5).

I then wrote to Genl Washington: for Young’s letter to George Washington of 6 Nov. 1798 and Washington’s reply of 20 Nov., see Washington, Papers, Ret. Ser., 3:183–5.

Ebenezer Huntington was a lieutenant colonel during the Revolutionary War and a brigadier general in the provisional army from 1798 to 1800 (Heitman, Register description begins Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1793, new ed., Washington, D.C., 1914 description ends , 310; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ). Elisha Hyde, a Republican, was mayor of Norwich and a member of the Connecticut legislature (Norwich Courier, 22 Dec. 1813; Vol. 34:344n). Roger Griswold and Calvin Goddard were both congressmen from Connecticut (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

1MS: “Etate.”

2MS: “Detemind.”

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