Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate, 3 April 1802

To the Senate

Gentlemen of the Senate

According to the request expressed in your resolution of yesterday I now transmit to the Senate the proceedings of the Court martial lately held for the trial of Capt Cornelius Lyman, asking the favor of their return, at the convenience of the Senate, as they are the originals.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “court martial v. Lyman.” Enclosures not found, but see below.

The Senate RESOLUTION of 2 Apr. requesting the proceedings of the court-martial against CORNELIUS LYMAN was sent to TJ by Samuel A. Otis, the secretary of the Senate (RC in DLC, endorsed by TJ with the notation “proceedings agt. Lyman”; Dft in DNA: RG 46, EPOR). Lyman was a captain in the Second Regiment of Infantry. On 26 Sep. 1801, at Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, a courtmartial was convened against him on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and neglect of duty. The court found Lyman guilty and ordered him dismissed from the service. On 4 Nov., the War Department sent TJ a communication regarding the court martial, which is recorded in SJL as received the same day but has not been found. Two days later, on 6 Nov., TJ ordered that the court’s sentence not be carried out, deeming the evidence against Lyman to be of a “contradictory aspect considering that in cases rendered doubtful by opposing testimony, it would be hard to credit that which accuses, rather than that which exculpates” (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 94, James Wilkinson Order Book; FC in Lb in DNA: RG 98, Orderly Books of the Adjutant at Fort Adams; Vol. 35:756). On 25 Mch. 1802, TJ nominated Lyman for appointment as captain in the First Regiment of Infantry, but the Senate postponed its decision on the nomination and requested the proceedings of the court-martial. Portions of the proceedings were read on 3 and 7 Apr., and the Senate finally consented to Lyman’s nomination on 12 Apr. by a vote of 17 to 5 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:412, 416–17, 419–20; TJ to the Senate, 25 Mch. 1802).

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