Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Prime, 16 June 1806

to his Excellency,

16 June 1806

the President of the United State

William Prime of the City and County of Washington, District of Columbia; Humbly represents That your petitioner being unapprized of the requisitions in the Law directing on what conditions Spirituous Liquors might be sold on the race ground in City of Washington, and being provided with necessaries for that purpose: your petitioner employed a Mr. Johnson on the first morning of the races in said City, to Wait on the Clerk of the County afs’d for the purpose of obtaining a Licence for your petitioner to retail Liquors as aforesaid, he your petitioner supposing the said Clerk had the power of so doing—that said Johnson did immediately on the said day call on the said Clerk and inform him of the Wish of your said petitioner to obtain said Licence—that said Clerk received the money for the Licence and directed the said Johnson to inform your Petitioner that he might then proceed to sell with safety—that he the said Clerk would immediately make a minute of the said application and that the Licence should be considered as granted from that time—your petitioner further states that after he had received the information aforesaid, and not before he did proceed to sell at the said race ground Supposing he was acting agreeable to Law—your petitioner however was presented by the Grand Jury for the said County of Washington for selling Liquors on the said race ground at the time aforesaid without having a Licence for that purpose according to Law—and on trial thereof altho your Petitioner proved the facts above represented he was Convicted of said offence—that he has been fined by the Circuit Court of the County afs’d; in consequence of said conviction the sum of Twenty pounds and said Court have given their Judgment for said sum and Costs—

Seeing therefore that the Offence of which your petitioner hath been Convicted and fined was Committed ignorantly and against the design and will of your petitioner, and after he had sought to obtain from the officer of the Court what was by Law required to authorize him so to do, and receiving the assurances of said officer that he was legally authorized, and after paying said officer the Licence money required by Law—your petitioner prays the Clemency of your Excellency, and that you will order and direct the fine and Costs in said Case to be remitted; and as in duty bound he will ever pray & soforth

Wm Prime

On the trial of the case of Wm. Prime, the above facts appeared in Evidence, but the Court were of opinion that they did not in law amount to a justification; and the fine of twenty pounds, Maryland Currency, being fixed by law, without any discretion in the Court to impose a smaller, Judgment was rendered therefor.

We therefore the undersign’d Judges of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia who were present at the trial recommend respectfully to the President of the United States a remission of the said fine and costs.

W. Cranch.

Allen B Duckett

Let a remission be granted

Th: Jefferson

June 16. 06.

DNA: RG 59—GPR—General Pardon Records.

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