Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Peter Hughes, 26 February 1803

From Peter Hughes

State of New York Coy: of Cayuga
Ovid, Februy: 26. 1803.


I am induced from a Principle of filial Duty to say that I am the Son of the late Col. Hugh Hughes of this State who served under the United States as Dy Qr Master General in this State & who failed in getting his Pay of Congress for his Services during the War, which were zealously & disinterestedly performed for Sir, had not that been the Case he would not have left my Mother & five Sisters two of whom are Widows & three single1 in a pennyless State.—Nor would I ever have troubled you Sir, on this Occasion, were it in my Power to afford the necessary Relief without sacraficing my little Property which I have earned by Industry part of which has gone to the Support of my Parents during the Life of my Father.

It is true Governor Clinton on his accession to Office presented me with the Sheriffalty of this County, but which as the County is new is very unproductive & great Responsibilty Attached to it & my Farm is small & New—I must confess I feel Chagrined at seeing a Foreigner enjoying the Sweets of an Office in this Country who knew nothing of him in the Day of her Adversity, while those who have borne the Heat of the Day are in modest Silence labo[ring] for a Living at an humble distance from Honours and Office—I mean the Office in the Customs of the City of New York lately enjoyed by Col. B. Walker but now Sir by an Englishman.—Sir, I do not ask any Thing on own Merit, altho’ I served in the three northern Campaigns, one against Quebec & the second two in General Gates’s Family (at his Invitation) this is well known to Genl Van Cortlandt now in Congress who can as would Govr Clinton & Genl Gates give every just recommendation if necessary.—I have the more fully to convince you Sir, of the Truth of my preceding Remarks & the Justice with which I have called for your Attention Sir, enclosed a Letter from my Mother now in the 78th Year of her Age & who has nothing to Support her save the Labours of her Children.—If it is consistent with the Honor of your Administration Sir, to enable me by conferring the Appointment alluded to to Yield That Comfort & Support to my venerable & afflicted Parent, you will also add a great Consolation to a Son,

Who is with great Respect Your Well Wisher

Peter Hughes

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); torn; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr.” with “City of Washington” canceled and “near Milton Virginia” written below and marked “private”; franked; postmarked Cayuga Bridge, 7 Mch.; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Mch. and “to be   vice Rogers” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Charity Hughes to Peter Hughes, 27 Jan. 1803, informing him of the death of his brother, James Miles Hughes; “the dispensations of Gods providence are just,” she writes, “I have no wright to murmur against his will but my loss is great he was my only help he was Allways Redy to Asist me but Alass my recorce is Cut of”; Miles died of a “fit of the Apoplexy” and he passed from life “without a groan or a struggle”; Mrs. Hughes believes she will go to Hackensack with “Mrs. Gamble,” who will take charge of a school there (same; Anna M. Holstein, Swedish Holsteins in America From 1644 to 1892 [Norristown, Pa., 1892], 84, 93).

Peter Hughes (1751–1817) served briefly as aide-de-camp to Horatio Gates during the American Revolution. He was appointed sheriff of Cayuga County in 1801 and county clerk in 1804 (Holstein, Swedish Holsteins, 93; 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 , 307; Franklin B. Hough, The New York Civil List [Albany, 1860], 430, 440; Albany Advertiser, 15 Jan. 1817).

A deputy quartermaster general during the American Revolution, hugh hughes spent the postwar years pressing a series of unsuccessful claims on Congress for payment of his wartime accounts (E. Wayne Carp, To Starve the Army at Pleasure: Continental Army Administration and American Political Culture, 1775–1783 [Chapel Hill, 1984], 134–5).

an englishman: Richard Rogers, a former Loyalist and the naval officer at New York City since replacing Benjamin Walker in 1797. For efforts by New York Republicans to secure his removal, see Vol. 34:126–7, 316–17; Vol. 35:62, 100–1, 272–4.

1Preceding two words and ampersand interlined.

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