Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Daniel Carroll Brent, 6 March 1803

To Daniel Carroll Brent

Washington Mar. 6. 1803

Dear Sir

Mr. Scott, writer of the inclosed, is engaged in the life of Genl. Washington. it is not in my power to answer the questions he asks relative to his family, and I suppose the family would not do it for him, because Marshal’s is to be their favorite history. I have thought it possible that your knolege of the family, and your means of making the enquiries, would enable you to procure for me answers to be sent to mr Scott, for which I should be thankful.

Will you be so good as to inform me of the case of Pickering, writer of the inclosed letters, on my return? Accept assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Daniel C. Brent esq.”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosures: (1) Joseph T. Scott to TJ, 25 Feb. 1803, recorded in SJL as received from Philadelphia on 5 Mch. but not found (see TJ to Scott, 6 Mch.). (2) William Pickering to TJ, undated, recorded in SJL as received 24 Jan. 1803 and “jail. pardon” but not found. (3) Pickering to TJ, 6 Mch., recorded in SJL as received 5 Mch. and “jail” but not found.

case of pickering: during its March 1802 term, the U.S. Circuit Court of the District of Columbia found William Pickering guilty of knowingly receiving stolen property and sentenced him to three stripes and a fine of $10. In a written statement dated 12 Apr. 1803, U.S. attorney John Thomson Mason declared that Pickering was undoubtedly guilty and that the only circumstance “calculated to excite compassion” in Pickering’s favor was his recent marriage to “a young woman of very respectable deportment & connections.” Mason added, however, that Pickering had already suffered a long imprisonment, “during which time he has been very much diseased” (MS in DNA: RG 59, GPR; notation by TJ at foot of text, dated 21 Apr. 1803: “A pardon to be issued. Th: Jefferson”). TJ pardoned Pickering of his corporal punishment, fine, and court costs on 22 Apr. (FC in Lb in same).

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