Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Scott, 1 August 1802

To Joseph Scott

Monticello Aug. 1. 1802


I learn with great surprise by a letter of the 26th of July from the Governor, that your commission as Marshal of Virginia was not recieved at that date. it was signed by me on the 8th. of July, is recorded in the Secretary of state’s office, and I presume was forwarded immediately. the members of the administration did not yield to the opinion that your powers in the Eastern district were suspended by the new law. on an examination of that we were clearly of opinion it had only left it to the Executive to discontinue according to the power they would have had without the law. in the present case however I pray you so far to give credence to this letter as to act under the assurance that you are legally marshal of the state under a commission recorded. you can qualify without producing the commission, but I have this day written to the Chief clerk of the Secretary of state’s office to have the transmission of the original commission enquired into & supplied if it has failed. I pray you to accept my respects & best wishes

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Joseph Scott. esq.”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Joseph Scott (1743–1810), a resident of Amelia County, Virginia, enlisted as a second lieutenant in the 1st Virginia Regiment of Foot in September 1775. Promoted to captain two years later, he was injured and captured by the British at the Battle of Germantown in October 1777. He was later released on parole and served in the Continental Army through the end of the war, mustering out as a brevet major. He returned to Amelia County and attracted many well-placed friends with what an unusually fulsome obituary described as a “hospitable and generous” character and a willingness to do “not only what justice, but the most delicate sense of honor required.” Scott was confirmed by the Senate to a permanent commission as marshal of the district of Virginia in January 1803 and remained in the position until his death (Richmond Enquirer, 8 Dec. 1810; 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 , 486; M. Lee Minnis, The First Virginia Regiment of Foot, 1775–1783 [Willow Bend, Md., 1998], 360–1; 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 , 1:433, 437).

NEW LAW: see James Monroe to TJ, 7 July 1802.

On 9 Aug., Scott reported back to TJ that his ORIGINAL COMMISSION “bearing date the 8th July 1802 appointing me Marshal for the Virginia District, came to my hands the 27th Ulto, and on the Same day I wrote to the Secretary of State—acknowledging the rect thereof” (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 26 Aug. and so recorded in SJL).

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