Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Tucker, 20 January 1806

Bristol Jany 20th 1806


I hope you will excuse in me the liberty I take in writing you on a subject so long past; should their be any foible I am confident your wisdom will pass it by; in the year of 1787 I attended Benjamin Walker Esqr commissioner for the naval department & residing in new York; who settled my public accounts up to august the fifth 1780; and I was held in public service afterwards until 1784 if no longer; for on the first day of June in that year I received a summons from Thomas Russel Esqr of Boston he being authorised by the supreme authority of the nation; to attend & preside on a court of inquiry; to be held in Boston; for the purpose of inquiring into the conduct of Seth Harding Esqr for the loss of the national Ship confederacy; I immediately attended that duty which was finished in a few hours; I was not more assiduous in that point of duty than I was in any other; preceeding that time during the revolutionary war; I was successful for my country so long as the war lasted from as early a period as Jany 20th. 1776 when I received a Commission from his Excellency General George Washington; to take a command in the Navy; I accepted the schooner Franklin; and proceeded against the known enemies of my country; and my conduct in no respect was ever questioned by the public nor the private; through the long & doubtful war; after I returned from being captured at Charleston by vice Admiral Arbuthnot. I requested of the Navy board in the Eastern department in exchange, it was granted & capt. William Wardlow of the Thorn whom I captured twelve months before was sent in exchange for me; I was then no longer on parole; and being inactive having no Ship; I became uneasy; and after repeated solicitations I obtaind a Leave of absence from the navy board to cruse in a private against those tyranic enemies which we had to encounter; in which service I was not less succesful than in a public Ship; I am confident I was instrumental in striking more british coulers; taking more guns mounted; & making more prisoners by sea than any other man in the United States; and from Circumstances think it indispensably my duty to make application for to be remunerated; and shall think my self honoured beyond expression if you should condescend to answer a true & faithful servant to his country as he is doubtful how he should proceed; by the vicissitudes of fortune I was in the year 1793 removed into the district of maine and was unacquainted with the resolution passed in Congress 1794 which precluded all the Navy Officers that did not claim within the time limited by that resolve; which resolve as I conceive deprived me of three years & 10 months pay; exclusive of any subsistance &c although one or two years preceeding that time a vote was passed in Congress to allow me with some others half pay for life; or a certain stipulated Sum in lieu of it; and as I was afterwards informed; at the assembling of the succeeding Congress; that particular vote was reconsidered & for what reason I never understood; in the year of 1797 I was honoured with the thanks of Congress for the services I had rendered my Country; by an Honable. Committee from congress and constituted of Samuel Osgood Walter Livingston & Arthur Lee; who then told me that I was considered still in the service of my country; and should it be expedient to equip a navy; or the exigences of the country should require one; I should be called upon and commissioned for the first ship built in our Quarter; say new England; I still hold my commission which accompanyed me through the war; although my circumstances at present may require some little attention from the admirer of his country I hope I may not be thought troublesome; as I had rather never be compensated; than be deemed unworthy by the President or any of his worthy Adherents. Should I be honoured with a line in answer, it will be gratefully Acknowledged by; Sir Your Most Obedient & Very Humble Servant

Samuel Tucker

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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