Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Brownlee, 27 November 1818

To James Brownlee

Monticello Nov. 27. 18.


Your letter of the 9th never reached me until the 23d. it was impossible, my good Sir, that you could have applied to a person less capable of serving you. long retired from the world and it’s business, paying no attention to new regulation, going no where, seeing no body1 but those who accidentally come here, I am totally ignorant of the steps to be taken to obtain your right, nor have I any means of learning them. the best thing you could do would be to commit your case to one of your delegates, who, if he does not himself know the proper steps, can readily learn them of the gentlemen he will meet at the ensuing session of the legislature, or from the public offices. [to save?] you the trouble of writing it over again I inclose your [letter?] stating it. only observe that Colo Lewis of the North garden was named Charles, not andrew. I would serve willingly if in my power; as it is you must accept my regrets and my best wishes that you may obtain the justice which may be due to you.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Spencer Roane to TJ, 22 Aug. 1818; mutilated at seal; at foot of text: “Mr James Brownlee”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Brownlee to TJ, 9 Nov. 1818, not found, recorded in SJL as received 23 Nov. 1818 from Waynesboro.

James Brownlee (ca. 1750–ca. 1826) was living in Fluvanna County in 1777 when he enlisted as a private in the 14th Virginia Regiment of the Continental army. He served at the battles of White Plains and Brandywine, the siege of Fort Mifflin, and the battles of Whitemarsh and Monmouth before being discharged in 1781 due to injuries he had sustained. At that time Brownlee was still living in Fluvanna County, but afterwards he settled in Waynesboro. He received a pension in April 1818, but as of 1820 he owned only $56 worth of assets and owed $60 in rent. At the time of his death Brownlee’s personal property was valued at over $350 (DNA: RG 15, SRRWPBLW; DNA: RG 29, CS, Waynesboro, 1820; Augusta Co. Will Book, 14:217, 15:398–9).

1Manuscript: “boay.”

Index Entries

  • Brownlee, James; identified search
  • Brownlee, James; letter from accounted for search
  • Brownlee, James; letter to search
  • Brownlee, James; requests aid from TJ search
  • Lewis, Charles (TJ’s uncle); mentioned search