Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Jane Savary, 21 February 1807

Mont Azile, Prince Georges (Maryland
21 Febuary 1807)


A person who through many untoward accidents that daily happen, has from a state of enjoyment, of all the satisfaction of life been at present brought to a Crisis where not only she is in danger of being deprived of this for the future but undoubtedly reduced to misery and want if not immediately the threatening blow awarded, comes to implore your assistance, as she is well acquainted that with the benevolent sentiments you possess towards your fellow Citizens, you are at the same time happily blessed with the means of putting your urbanity into execution—

My husband, Peter Savary who for a great many years past, has always with good Success conducted his farm, which is a property estimated at about £5.000. so as to save it from any incumbrance, being now far advanced in age, his endeavours have not been lately crowned with the same good fortune, the crops have been scanty, our Stock reduced by sickness and although we have denied ourselves some small luxuries our family were formerly used to, yet he has not been able to defend himself from seeing his debts accumulate to the amount of abt. $1,500.—The greatest part of these, judgment has been obtained against him and he is threatened every day to see his property sold by the Sheriff perhaps for half the value—He is a stranger in this Country and can or will apply to nobody these gloomy thoughts prey upon his mind, and he is pining a way visibly—In this circumstance I thought that a bold act projected by me alone and unknown to any body, and charging myself with all the consequences if I act improperly which I as a woman am not able to discern, particularly in a case where distress of mind deprives me of the power of reflection—The favor I come to sollicit of you Sir is great, great for me, but gratitude shall erect a monument in my bosom, which no time shall decay, no power overthrow—I can expect no compliance from my friends and acquaintances these being either unwilling or unable, therefore must rest my only ressource in your exorable and beneficent heart that flies to the relief of the distressed.—

Our farm if well managed, can clear 4 & 500$ a year very easily, which our meadow alone annually produces, thereby you will please to observe, that in the mediocrity we live, we can be very well contented. Our family only consists of 5. Person’s my Husband, my self, my daughter, and son in Law, a Gentleman from Poland, who after the Revolution of his Country travelled through great many Countries and at last sought an abode in the regions of Columbian Liberty, and after an unfortunate trial in trade was obliged to retire to a farmers life—Besides we have an Italian young Lady a refugie from St. Domingo, whose husband was massacred there—

If the farm is sold our repose is disturbed, and we see no way of support with the small residue that would come to us, therefore I undertake to fly to your clemency for Protection, and humbly pray to save us from ruin, it is in your power I know it, and such a deed for which I come to crave your kindness will enable us to continue our industry for the sustenance of our selves as we have been used to, it is, Sir, to advance us the Sum of 12 or 1500$—for which we will make an annual payment of $4 or 500,$, which with redoubled activity and after having once extricated ourselves from the Labyrinth of sneaking Debts, Suits & Judgments, which are always attended with gnawing expences, it will be a very easy thing to shew ourselves just and accurate to our promise—I would have prevailed on my Husband to address you on this subject himself, did I not know that his present weak state of Health will not permit him to use any mental exertions—But should you which I fervently hope (as it is my only one) graciously grant my humble request, he will not loose a moment to give you the necessary Security for such a benign act, to which I shall my self in particular attend to as being the premium mobile of it—

The bearer our Servant Tully, a Boy abt. 24 Years old a capital waiter and excellent Carriage driver, has order to find himself a master for $500.—which he is well worth. Should you be in want of such a character, he is at your service for the above sum—A favor I have to add to the foregoing is to excuse my forwardness, and the trouble I occasion you, and to bury it in oblivion—Having already the pen in my hand, and our sex being very prone to importunity, I request another favor of you not for my self but for my Son in Law. he is a young Polander as I have already mentioned of very good family, speaks and writes several living languages to perfection as I am informed, and is fully penetrated with veneration for your merits and reputation—He wishes an opportunity to employ his talents more usefully than on a farm, and to have at the same time a comfortable living, can his services be any ways acceptable to you he holds them entirely devoted to you—

In hopes of a favorable answer, I raise my hands up to heaven and pray for your health and life and will always call my self as I have always done heretofore

Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and Most humble Servant

Jane Savary

MHi: Coolidge Collection.

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