Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 24 January 1804

From Albert Gallatin

[on or before 24 Jan. 1804]

Is it proper to submit this letter to the Attorney general in order to examine whether prosecutions may be instituted under the Statute for actual opposition to the Marshal in the exercise of his legal functions? Or is it better not to notice the acts & to let the prosecutions for the riot take their course in the State courts?

Respectfully submitted

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 146:25373); undated, but see below; at foot of text: “The President.”

TJ’s response to Gallatin of 24 Jan. and Levi Lincoln’s opinion of [25 Jan.], which TJ recorded in SJL with the notation “Plymouth riot,” indicate that the letter was one from Henry Warren, customs collector at Plymouth, Massachusetts, to the secretary of the Treasury, now missing. On 23 Dec., the Columbian Courier, or Weekly Miscellany at New Bedford provided information on the “Riot at Plymouth,” noting that it took place at a public auction conducted by the deputy marshal on 16 Dec., where forfeited rum and molasses were being sold. A “mob” of 150 to 200 participants was determined “to abuse any person who should over bid the original owners.” At least two individuals made bids and both were, reportedly, “shamefully abused.” One had to be rescued “from the hands of the ruffians” by his friends, being “in so mangled and exhausted a situation that his life was at first despaired of.” The observer hoped “that the instigators of so daring an outrage on the laws” would be punished.

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