N.Y. Rhinebeck—15th. Jany. 1809.
Presumeing on the short Acquaintance I once had the Honour of while You were in Congress A.D. 1775, I now address You, I was then a Captain in the Army, and had been sent to Philadelphia with Dispatches by General Montgomery my Brother in Law, anounceing the capture of Montreal.
I mention the Circumstace, because I think you will remember it: tho’ probably you have forgotten me, I venture Sir to Address you on a Subjet interesting to me: my Son John B. Livingston whom I have educated with care, and braught up to the Profession of Law, has an inclination to enter the Army of of the United States as a Captain of Infantry, or Cavalelry, in the latter he has generally trained while serveing his Clerkship he is of Age and according to requisitions published under Your Signature raised a Company of Volunteers, who Chose him their Captain of Artilery, But John once at an Election having been a Partizan of his Unkle Govenor Lewis he found on his Application to Govenor Tompkins for a Commission an unexpected refusal, and is now in consequence of it, Obliged to serve under an illiterate Shoemaker recently created a Captain of Malitia: as a Private, Should You Sir think it proper to grant him a Commission by Brevet, or otherwise, I will esteem it a great and very particular favo’r never to be forgotten.
Haveing myself had some experience as the enclose Documents certify: I beg leave to tender my Services should the Public Ecigency’s require. During the late War, I had the Honour to be advanced from a Captain of a Company through the Successive Grades to that of Colonel of a Regiment, which I commanded more than two Years: When at the close of a Campaign and the Army in winter Quarters the independance of this Country being consider’d as no longer Questionable: from Circumstances of imperious necessity I committed the unpardonable Crime of Resignation as it has since been deemed, in consequence of which, I have been deprived of all the Advantages which accrued to those Officers who continued in service, altho’ the Form of that continuance, was of Shorter duration: from the Circumstance of their haveing entered later into the Army, many of them, when the issue of our Contest with G: Brittain was reduced to a Certainty of success, I merely Mention this, not to retreive what is past, but to Shew the predicament in which some of the most deserveing officers of the late Army Stand, many of whom have died in Poverty and Consequent distress. To serve my Country is now my Object and I Offer myself from a full Conviction that I am equal to command as to Obey in any Station to which I may be advanced, should the Administration think proper to employ me.
My Son John if I am any judge of Military Talents (which I beleive myself not intirely ignorant of,) posseses all the requisite, except experience, in a high Degree; & I hope and beleive if employed, he will become usefull and Ornamental to his Country, I have been informed there is a Company in the 4th or 6th. Regiment not raised. I hope Sir You will excuse my writing to You, on these Subjects: the Only Apology I can Offer is, that I am unacquainted with the Secretary of War, and am totally unknown to him.
I have the Honour to be Sir with the most profound Resspect, and the highest Essteem, Sir, Your most Obedient Humble Servant.
Henry B: Livingston
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.