Thomas Jefferson Papers

Lancelot Minor to Thomas Jefferson, 14 January 1815

From Lancelot Minor

Louisa Jany 14 1815

Dear Sir

Diffident of Judging of the qualifications of my Son I have called upon some of my friends, Who have had it more in their power; and better able to Judge Impartially of his merits their Certificates I inclose.—

From the youthfull age and Inexperience of Wm T. Minor I do not suppose that he ought to look higher than a Lieutenants or Ensigns commission. Either of which Grade I hope he will fill with honor and propriety The prospect of Raising state troops seems to be done away but should a state army be Raised, he, as well as myself have an objection to his Joining that, for this Reason; that I suppose if the state troops are Raised they will be confined principally to Garrison duty. It is my wish if my Son Joins the army that he shall be where there is active duty—

I will therefore ask that you will be so good as to endeavour to procure for him in the U States army a Lieutenants or Ensigns Commission—I feel particularly anxious that if he Joins the Army that it Could be assertained shortly the prospect of entering the army has in a great measure Suspended his Medical persuits and I fear will continue to do So untill it is determined

acept Dear Sir my best wishes for your happiness

Lan Minor

RC (DLC: James Monroe Papers); addressed in the unidentified hand that copied the enclosures below: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire Monticello”; franked; postmarked “Mitchells Store Va,” 14 Jan. 1815; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Jan. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Recommendation of William T. Minor by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Timberlake, Camp Carter, 7 Dec. 1814, stating that if the younger Minor obtains a commission, he will discharge his duties honorably; and adding that Minor joined the Virginia militia as a volunteer in August 1814, when he was under the age of eighteen, and that he is still in service (Tr in DLC: Monroe Papers). (2) Recommendation of Minor by George W. Trueheart and Andrew Kean, Louisa County, 8 Jan. 1805 [1815], remarking that they have known him for many years and can testify to his probity and good character; and commenting that they are “anxious to see in the Military service of our Country at this Crisis a young Man on whose virtuous principles, correct habits, promising talents, & repuplican [republican] devotion we can implicitly confide, for an able and zealous discharge of any trust reposed in him” (Tr in DLC: Monroe Papers; subjoined to preceding enclosure). Enclosed in TJ to James Monroe, 21 Jan. 1815.

William Tompkins Minor (1797–1854), physician and eldest son of Lancelot Minor, was born in Caroline County. Despite his wartime service in the Virginia militia and his father’s best efforts, he never obtained a military commission. The younger Minor did receive a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1818 and moved shortly thereafter to Alabama, where he lived for the remainder of his life. In 1850 he owned twenty-three slaves (John B. Minor, The Minor Family of Virginia [1923], 20–1; General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania [1917], 579; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ala., Morgan Co., 1850 slave schedules; gravestone in Minor family cemetery, Morgan Co., Ala.).

SJL records missing letters from Lancelot Minor to TJ, 8 Dec. 1814, received from Louisa County the day after it was written, and from TJ to Minor, 9 Dec. 1814 and 21 Jan. 1815.

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; officers’ commissions sought search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Kean, Andrew; recommends W. T. Minor search
  • militia; of Va. search
  • Minor, Lancelot; and military appointment for W. T. Minor search
  • Minor, Lancelot; letters from search
  • Minor, Lancelot; letters from accounted for search
  • Minor, Lancelot; letters to accounted for search
  • Minor, William Tompkins; identified search
  • Minor, William Tompkins; recommended for military appointment search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Timberlake, Henry; recommends W. T. Minor search
  • Trueheart, George W.; recommends W. T. Minor search
  • Virginia; militia search