Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Fillebrown to Thomas Jefferson, 1 December 1818

From Thomas Fillebrown

Washington City, Dec. 1, 1818.


The accompanying book is most respectfully, though reluctantly, submitted to you for perusal. I am induced to this course by friends here, who have been so highly gratified with it, as to wish you might see it.—I have delayed sending for months, out of pure deference to the character of, and respect due so illustrious a personage as the late President of the United States:—but the renewed solicitations of my friends prompts me to comply with their requests, confident that your generous liberality will pardon my freedom in thus encroaching on your domestic felicity with a matter so trivial,

I believe no copy, save the enclosed, is to be found this side the place of its origin; consequently it is valued, and I am induced to expect its return. I purchased it in Vermont; and being personally acquainted with many of the leading characters alluded to in its pages, have added with my pen, the “names,” where initials only were introduced. This was done for the more convenient reference of strangers, through whose hands it has so often passed and repassed, as to be almost worn out.—The matter of which it treats, will perhaps never be forgotten.—Pity for the unfortunate subjects, will induce me to lay it aside for the present after its return.

It is a source of peculiar pleasure to me to learn your health is so far re-established; and warrants a hope that your valuable life will be preserved to us yet many years.

With the highest respect and consideration.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most ob. servant,

Th: Fillebrown. Jr. Clk. Navy Dept

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, late President U. S. Monticello, Va.”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Dec. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Thomas Fillebrown (1794–1873), clerk, was born in Hallowell in the Maine district of Massachusetts and moved by 1817 to Washington, D.C., where he found employment as a clerk in the Navy Department. In 1829 President Andrew Jackson learned that Fillebrown had spoken out against the alleged sexual improprieties of Margaret “Peggy” O’Neale Eaton, the wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton. Jackson championed the virtue of Mrs. Eaton in a widely publicized scandal, and it may be no coincidence that around this time Fillebrown was removed from his position as clerk and arrested for improperly receiving commissions for his work disbursing public funds to naval hospitals. Fillebrown was soon released, sued for commissions still due to him for his government work, and was awarded $430, which it took him three decades to collect. After Jackson left office, Fillebrown regained his clerkship and spent the rest of his life working in the Navy Department’s Bureau of Provisions and Clothing, at times as its chief clerk. He also served in Washington’s militia from 1825 until 1860, rising to the rank of colonel in 1846 (Charles Bowdoin Fillebrown, Genealogy of the Fillebrown Family, with Biographical Sketches [1910], 54–7; Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting Statements of the Names of the Clerks Employed in the Navy Department [Washington, 1818]; Washington Daily National Journal, 19, 23 May 1829; Richmond Enquirer, 16 June 1829; DNA: RG 29, CS, Washington, D.C., 1830–70; Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 9 vols. description ends , 7:197–8, 460–1, 756–8; Reports from the Court of Claims, submitted to the House of Representatives during the Second Session of the Thirty-Fifth Congress, 1858–’59 [1859]; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends ; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends ; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 12:835 [11 Apr. 1860]; Robert Mills, Guide to the Capitol and National Executive Offices of the United States [1847], 61; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 3 May 1851, 10 May 1861; Mills, Guide to the Capitol and to the National Executive Offices of the United States [1854], 57; gravestone inscription in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington).

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  • Fillebrown, Thomas; identified search
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