James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edward Cutbush, 25 December 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Edward Cutbush1

25 December 1812, Philadelphia. Has been a U.S. Navy surgeon since May 1799, serving in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean, and at a hospital in Syracuse. Upon returning to the U.S. from Sicily, found that Dr. [Thomas] Ewell had been appointed a navy surgeon and stationed at Washington without having been on a single cruise at sea. “Conceiving that an ⟨o⟩lder surgeon, whose life had been exposed to the vicissitudes of climates, and the perils of the Ocean, and who had graduated at the most respectable Medical School in the Union, had a greater claim to be stationed at HeadQuarters than Dr. Ewell, I waited on Mr. Smith, then Secretary of the Navy, to urge my claims to the situation, who informed me, that it was the will of th⟨e⟩ President (Mr. Jefferson) in consequence of the friendship which had subsisted between Dr. Ewell’s father and himself, he disapproved of the arrangement, and made frequent assurances, both verbal and by letter, that should the place be vacated justice would be done me.” Having received news that Ewell is about to relinquish his post, requests JM’s intervention in his favor. Has addressed the secretary of the navy on the subject.

RC (DNA: RG 45, Letters Received from Commissioned Officers below the Rank of Commander). 2 pp. Cover docketed in an unidentified hand, “Dr. Cutbush Complaining of Dr. Ewell’s being appointed over him with a letter from Adam Seybert of Ph⟨i⟩ respecting his being appointed hospital surgeon at Washn. in room of Dr Ewell” (see Seybert to JM, 29 Dec. 1812).

1Edward Cutbush (1772–1843) graduated from Philadelphia College in 1794, after a medical internship at Pennsylvania Hospital. He was appointed a surgeon in the U.S. Navy in 1799 and on 5 May 1813 was ordered to Washington by the secretary of the navy, William Jones, to take up Thomas Ewell’s post as surgeon at the Washington Navy Yard. Jones subsequently ordered Cutbush to oversee the establishment of a navy hospital in Washington (Dudley, Naval War of 1812, 1:143 n. 2, 2:124; Jones to Cutbush, 5 May 1813 [DNA: RG 45, Letters to Officers]).

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