Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Hay to Thomas Jefferson, 25 January 1811

From George Hay

Richmond Jan: 25. 1811—


Inclosed are copies of the pleas, proposed to be filed, in your Case. They were prepared by me, and revised by Mr Wirt. I believe, that they present all the points of defence. That these are exhibited in their best form, I am far from supposing. You will therefore take the trouble to revise and correct them. When you have corrected them, be so good as to return them without delay. They ought to be filed by the 10. Feb: the time, it is true, has been prolonged by agreement to the 22d: yet I do not wish to avail myself of Mr Wickham’s indulgence, if we can be in readiness on the day first named.

My opinion is, that all the points of defence are presented, altho’ there is no plea, founded exclusively on the idea that the President of the U.S acting officially is not personally responsible for an error in judgment. It seems to me that the counsel for the defendant can avail themselves of that principle, if tenable, under cover of the 7th plea. Mr Wirt seems to be of a different opinion. If you Concur with him, a distinct plea shall be prepared, unless you will take the trouble of drafting it yourself.

I shall by the mail of monday transmit to Mr Tazewell a Copy of the declaration & pleas: of the substance of which he is already apprised.

These pleas in a rough form, were drawn in December during the Session of the Circuit Court; but Mr Wirt being too much indisposed to examine them, & Mr Tazewell being absent, I put in the general issue only, and obtained an order for leave to file additional pleas on or before the 10. of February.

I am, with great respect,

Yr mo: ob: Sert

Geo Hay.

RC (DLC); below signature: “Thomas Jefferson esq. Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Mar. 1811 and so recorded in SJL; with notation by TJ (brackets in original): “

 a list of the Pleas inclosed.
II.  to the jurdn, that the premisses are not in the Virga district, but in the territy of Orleans. judgment of the court demanded.
III  1. Not guilty, & puts himself on the country Etc. [I presume this plea No I.]
2. Intrusion by the pl. that the lands are the property of the US. and the pl. <as Pr. US.> intruded. verify
IV.  that the locus in quo is the bed of the river Missi, propty of US. & the pl. intruded. ready to verify
V.  bed of the river, the pl. erected a Nuisance & the def. abated it, ready to verify.
VI.  Justificn as Pr. US. the lands the propty of US; the pl. intruded, & the def. as Pr. US. ordd Marshl to remove. verify
VII.  Justifn undr act of Congress. parcel of territy of Orleans, propty of US. pl. intrudd def. as Pr. US. undr act Congr. ordd removd ver.

The enclosed pleas are printed below at 28 Feb. 1811, the date they were filed. As numbered by TJ above, plea IV seems not to have been submitted and has not been found.

Index Entries

  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; communications between TJ and his counsel concerning search
  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; pleadings in search
  • Hay, George; and batture controversy search
  • Hay, George; letters from search
  • Tazewell, Littleton Waller; and batture controversy search
  • Wickham, John; and batture controversy search
  • Wirt, William; and batture controversy search