Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Ward, 18 April 1806

April 18th. 1806

To the President of the United States—

The petition of Thomas Ward and John N. Simpson Humbly Sheweth that whereas Your petitioners haveing entered into contract with the Postmaster General for carrying the mail of the united States between the City of New York and Philadelphia—and through ignorance of the law have made themselves liable to heavy pains and penalties, altho no injury to the public has arisen—and in order to remove the disability thus innocently incured Your petitioners made application to the secretary of the Treasury for releif, by makeing complaint of themselves to the Judge of the district of New Jersey, and did make to him a Statement of the whole of the transaction in fact and in truth, which representation together with the certificate of the Honorable Robert Morris Judge of the said District is herewith presented—

but Your petitioners have since been informed that the application should have been made to the pesident of the United States who alone has power to releive, and as Your petitioners are apprehensive that they may be prosecuted and put to much trouble and cost, and as no injury has arrisen in consequence of their breach of the law as will appear by the certificate herewith presented, from the Postmaster Genl—Your petitioner Humbly prays that they may be pardoned for the said offence and the disability removed—

Thomas Ward for himself and John N. Simpson—

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


April 19. 1806

We the Subscribers haveing been long acquainted with Coll Thomas Ward the within Petitioner Do Certify that he has ever Supported the Character of Honesty Integrity and uprighness—and that we have good Cause to beleive that the Statements Contained in the accompanying Documents are true—And we Do hereby Recomend him to the favourable notice of the President of the United States

Aaron Mitchell

John Condit

[TJ’s notes concerning the petition]:

Apr. 21. 06. I observed to these people that a pardon could not extinguish the right of an informant before, any more than after a prosecution commenced: that therefore they had better have a friendly prosecn commenced, & tried & then a pardon might issue. this was therefore concluded on. on stating it to mr Mad. Gall, Dearn. Breckenr. (the last 3. being with me in the Commee room of the Capitol) they approved, mr Breckenridge adding that the prosecn should go to trial & the jury & judges certify their opinion as to ignorance of the law.

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