Thomas Jefferson Papers

Petition of Peter Veitch, with Jefferson’s Order, 17 March 1803

Petition of Peter Veitch, with Jefferson’s Order

Alexa. 17th. March 1803

To His Excellency the President
of the United States

The Petition of Peter Veitch of Alexandria County Humbly Sheweth that during the year 1801, he was presented by a Grand Jury for the body of this County for retailing Spirituous Liquors without Licence, on which presentment Judgment and Execution has since been had, in favour of the United States; which including the costs of Prosecution amounts to Ninety eight dollars eighty five cents—which said Sum, your petitioner is utterly unable to pay—and ruin and distress will be the inevitable fate of your petitioner, if your Excellency in tender Consideration does not remit the fine and Costs above staded Your petitioner begs leave to state that he is now far advanced in life and his means of procuring a livelihood very limited as he spent the early part of his life in the revolutionary Army which he entered at an early period remained in his Country’s Service until the disbanding of the Army That his ignorance as to the time and manner of renewing his licence subjected him to the rigour of the Law and not a disposition to evade or elude its forms—your Petitioner as in duty Bound will ever pray &c

Peter Veitch

his × mark

District of Columbia

Alexandria County—[Sc]

The above named Peter Veitch personally appeared before me the Subscriber one of the United States Justices for the County aforesaid and made Oath that the facts Stated in the foregoing petition are true and Correct. Given under my hand this 19th. day of March 1803—

A Faw

We the Subscribers do hereby Certify that we believe the facts stated in the foregoing petition to be true—That Mr. Veitch is poor and far advanced in life but an honest and Industrious man and of good Character and do recommend his Case to the President as one entitled to mitigation and relief

Alexandria 17th. March 1803.

A Faw

[Order by TJ:]

a pardon to be issued

Th: Jefferson

Apr. 6. 1803.

MS (DNA: RG 59, GPR); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Abraham Faw and with Veitch’s mark; with certificate signed by Faw and 24 others, including Cleon Moore, who added, “has known the petitioner ever since the year 1772, in the Character of an Honest Man & knew him in the Revolutionary War”; another signer noted Veitch was at the battle of Trenton and was a good soldier.

In a 7 Apr. 1803 opinion on the above case, U.S. attorney John Thomson Mason describes Peter Veitch as “a very poor aged and infirm man” of good character who served his country well during the American Revolution. Mason doubts that Veitch retains sufficient strength to work and deems him “an unoffensive man” and “worthy of Compassion.” Recalling his trial, Mason states that Veitch was prosecuted for two offenses simultaneously, one for retailing liquor without a license and another for assaulting one Joseph Bowling. Bowling, “a stout strapping athletic young man,” was the witness in both cases. Veitch was convicted on both charges and was able to pay the judgment for the assault, amounting to about $30. Mason was surprised by the verdict in the assault case, but states that Veitch was undoubtedly guilty of illegally retailing liquor, although he could not determine if this was due to ignorance or mistake as stated in Veitch’s petition. Regarding Bowling, Mason considers Veitch’s accuser to be “a man of very bad character” (DNA: RG 59, GPR). TJ pardoned Veitch on 8 Apr. 1803 (Lb in same).

Index Entries