Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Clarke, 27 March 1807

Meadville Pennsa. March 27th. 1807


In few places within the United States have the partisans of Aaron Burr, been more warm and pertinacious than in the village of Meadville in Pennsylvania

Amongst this class a Bartholemew White was found hardy enough to attempt enlisting men for that expedition, and to declare on all occasions, even down to the present time, his adherence to Burr, and the support he would give him. Five witnesses have deposed to these facts before David Mead & William Clarke, two of the Judges of the court of common Pleas for Crawford County who have bound White in a recognizance of four thousand Dollars to appear before the circuit Court in Philadelphia on the 11th of April next—The Witnesses are also recognized to appear there. The Act of congress provides that witnesses before the Circuit Court shall have the same wages in the different States, that are allowed in the superior Courts of the States—In Pennsylvania the wages of a witness attending the supreme Court is fifty Cents per diem. This is no compensation to a person for travelling between seven and eight hundred miles, and who must delay some time in a city where accomodations are dear, and who must be absent from his family four or five weeks. The fifty cents is the whole compensation for every day’s attendance, in going to and returning from Court, no mileage being allowed.

Some of the Witnesses who are bound to appear against White are really very poor, and unless assisted or furnished with money by private individuals will be unable to go even the tenth of the distance to Philadelphia—Here is a very great difficulty, and unless remedied in some way, the greatest crimes may be committed against the United States and no man will inform of them, unless he be wealthy as well as patriotic. The wages for a witness attending in the State Court is a very improper measure for the Witness attending before the circuit Court, for in the State court the witness is never taken out of the County where the offence is committed; but in the circuit court he is taken from one end of the State to the other as occasions make it necessary—We entreat your Excellency to consider of the situation of those people who for the safety, in some measure, of their Country are compelled to abandon at this time their pursuits and occupations, and attend Court at such a distance and such expence, upon fifty Cents per diem, and if there be any of discretionary application of money entrusted to the executive, that can be applied to their relief, you will therefore be pleased to cause instructions to be sent to the marshall of this district, as speedily as possible, to afford it.

We are your Excellencys most obedt servts.

William Clark

David Mead

Patk. Farrelly

CSmH: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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