Thomas Jefferson Papers

“James Otway Crump” to Thomas Jefferson, 26 December 1821

From “James Otway Crump”

Georgia, Wayne County Dec, 26th, 1821

Dear Sir,

It is with much reluctance that I take the liberty of addressing you, particularly upon such a subject.—To not keep you in suspense, I have, partly by indiscretion, & partly by unavoidable accidents, lost all my estate; & myself and Wife (the daughter of Wm Clark, Powhatan,) are reduced to hard labour to support ourselves and four children. I removed from the state of Alabama last Fall, intending to go into E. Florida, having some prospect of receiving an appointment there;—But the loss of my horses in this place has frustrated my design. Perhaps, I might, by writing, receive some assistance from my Father in Law; But my Wife objects to it. She says she cannot agree to give the old man so much trouble, as a detail of our misfortune’s would bring upon him. In this situation, among strangers, I have taken the liberty of troubling you with these few lines, extorted from me by despair, and unknown to every other person. If you think proper to grant me any relief, direct your letter “Tuckersville post office, Wayne County, Georgia,,—I live within three miles of the Office.

I am,

Dear Sir, Respectfully yours,

James Otway Crump

RC (MHi); mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter of 26 Dec. 1822 received 17 (reworked from 16) Jan. 1822, but correctly recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with FC of TJ to John Winn, 16 May 1824, on verso; addressed: “Thos. Jefferson, Esqe (Montizello,—) Albemarle, Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Tuckersville, Ga., 31 Dec.

This letter is most likely a forgery by a man who also went by James Bradford. In 1810 James Otway Crump, of Cumberland County, married Maria Clarke, daughter of William Clarke (Richmond Enquirer, 8 Feb. 1810). The couple moved afterward to Autauga County, Alabama, where, in April 1822, Crump advertised a $100 reward for the apprehension of Bradford, whom he had lately employed to teach his children. Crump believed Bradford to be the forger of a letter in December 1821 in the name of Maria Crump asking Alabama congressman Gabriel Moore for financial assistance under the pretense of her husband having died in Wayne County, Georgia, while the family was en route to Florida. Moore addressed $80 to Maria Crump in Wayne County, which Bradford collected before absconding. Crump wrote that Bradford was an educated man “about 28 or 30 years of age,” described his physical characteristics in detail, said that Bradford claimed to be a native of Virginia who had moved to Pennsylvania while young, and suggested that he was probably now in the latter state, Florida, or Louisiana (Montgomery [Ala.] Republican, 14 June 1822).

Index Entries

  • Bradford, James; accused of forgery and theft search
  • Bradford, James; described search
  • charity; requests to TJ for search
  • Clarke, William; family of search
  • Crump, James Otway; as forgery victim search
  • Crump, Maria Clarke; as forgery victim search
  • Crump, Maria Clarke; family of search
  • Moore, Gabriel; swindled search
  • “Crump, James Otway” (pseudonym); letter from search
  • “Crump, James Otway” (pseudonym); requests assistance from TJ search