Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Easton to Thomas Jefferson, 9 January 1822

From David Easton

Washington City 9th Jany 1822—


Accompanying this are Copies of a letter from Major Genl Lafayette, and of the document therein alluded to as also a printed sheet, containing Copies of a Certificate from Mr Monroe, now our present chief Magistrate, and of a few letters from General Washington to the late Colo Robert H Harrison, the whole of which I take the liberty of sending you at the recommendation of the President of the U States.

The object in view is to obtain if practicable, positive evidence that Colo Harrison when he retired from the army in ill health in 1781. actually did so on furlough, for although he did not rejoin the army again, it is well known that the foundation of his ill health was laid in Camp, which Phisically incapacitated him from further labours in the field and which finally terminated his life in 1790—

His Daughters were left Young at their fathers death, and his valuable papers which were preserved1 with great care until the decease of his widow, which followed Colo Hs about two years thereafter, suddenly2 disappeard with the trunk which containd them. and but for this loss I feel confident it would not have become necessary to resort to any other sourse to establish the fact of their fathers being in Commission, tho’ not in active service, until the close of the war. Should you know, Sir, any thing of this matter, which from your high Official station at the time is not improbable, Your declaration of the fact would probably be attended with beneficial consequences to his daughters in enabling them to establish their just claim to the gratitude of their Country, for their fathers long, faithful & important services, which remain unrequited by the U States until this day.3 I would therefore in their behalf respectfully solicit from you any information You may be in possession of either personally, or from general impressions as the case may be—as early as4 Your convenience will permit—

with sentiments of the highest respect, & Esteem

I am, Sir Your Mo: Ob hum Sert

David Easton

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “To Thomas Jefferson Esqr Charlottesville Virga”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Jan. 1822 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); address cover only; with Dft of TJ to Samuel L. Mitchill and Felix Pascalis, 17 May 1824, on verso; addressed: “To Thomas Jefferson late, President of the United States Montichello Virga.” Enclosure: Lafayette to Easton, La Grange, 28 Oct. 1821, expressing esteem and regard for Richard H. Harrison and enclosing his testimonial of the same date asserting, in part, that “While I lived in, and during my ensuing intercourse with, the military family of which I am proud to have ever been considered as a member, I have seen Colonel Harrison intrusted with every secret, consulted on every emergency, employed on opportunities where patriotism and talents were most required; and although at the time of the colonel’s retreat I was employed in a separate command in Virginia, I may attest that his brother soldiers regarded him as an officer on furlough, ready to reassume his post in case his health would allow it” (printed in ASP, Claims, 1:853; Tr sent to TJ not found; Tr sent to James Madison in DLC: Madison Papers, including conjoined Tr of a 4 Jan. 1822 attestation by James Monroe [damaged at crease]: “I know that the above is the hand writing of Major General La F[ay]ette” and Monroe’s further notation [torn] “Of the exalted merit of Colo Harrison, and of his long and faith[ful] services, I have already borne, from my ow[n personal] knowledge, ample testimony”). Other enclosure printed below.

David Easton (1765–1835), merchant and clerk, was a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who moved to the United States around 1785 and seems to have gained American citizenship eventually. By 1790 he operated as a merchant in Alexandria, importing rum, coffee, and other goods. Easton sought a consulship in 1801. TJ issued a commission for him to be commercial agent in Martinique the following year, but the United States Senate never confirmed his appointment and he did not fill the position. In 1803, 1806, and 1807 Easton and two others unsuccessfully petitioned the United States Congress for relief from losses incurred as co-owners of a brigantine and its cargo captured in 1793 by a French privateer. Briefly imprisoned in the District of Columbia for insolvency in 1806, Easton worked in Washington as a United States Treasury Department clerk from that year until at least 1833. He died in Washington (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 45 vols. description ends , 35:82–3, 37:18n, 98–9; Virginia Gazette and Alexandria Advertiser, 20 May 1790; Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette, 9 Jan. 1793, 19 Apr. 1794; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 8:499–500; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 4:291, 342, 5:315, 6:27 [17 Jan., 15 Feb. 1803, 11 Mar. 1806, 11 Nov. 1807]; New-York Commercial Advertiser, 19 July 1806; Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, transmitting A Report of the Persons Employed as Clerks in the Treasury Department, During the year 1806 [Washington, 1807]; William A. Weaver, Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1833 [1833], 16; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 11 Apr. 1835; gravestone inscription in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington).

Easton’s wife, Sarah Harrison Easton (1769–1844), was one of Robert H. Harrison’s daughters. She and her sister, Dorothy Hanson Storer (ca. 1771–1851), were aged about twenty-one and nineteen, respectively, at their fathers death (George T. Ness Jr., “A Lost Man of Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine 35 [1940]: 318, 319, 332; Sarah Easton’s gravestone inscription in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington; Storer’s gravestone inscription in Congressional Cemetery, Washington).

Easton sent a similar letter with the same enclosures to Madison on 14 Jan. 1822 (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:463–4).

1Manuscript: “presered.”

2Easton here canceled “lost.”

3Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

4Manuscript: “at early as,” with last two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Easton, David; and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War service search
  • Easton, David; family of search
  • Easton, David; identified search
  • Easton, David; letter from search
  • Easton, Sarah Harrison (David Easton’s wife; Richard H. Harrison’s daughter); and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War pension search
  • Harrison, Grace Dent (Richard H. Harrison’s wife); death of search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; and Lafayette search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; correspondence with G. Washington search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; death of search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; family of search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; personal papers of search
  • Harrison, Robert Hanson; Revolutionary War service of search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War service search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War service search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War service search
  • Revolutionary War; compensation claims search
  • Storer, Dorothy Hanson (Richard H. Harrison’s daughter); and R. H. Harrison’s Revolutionary War pension search
  • Washington, George; correspondence with R. H. Harrison search