James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Swan, 12 May 1813 (Abstract)

§ From William Swan

12 May 1813, “State of New York, Fishkill.” “I entreat forgiveness for the liberty I take, in thus adressing you, and Inclosing for your Perusal, the copies of a Petition for my relief, and Letter from Governor Tompkins in my behalf, (orignals of both sent last month to the Secretary of State).1 Which, on examination I trust will insure your indulgence, and as I know without doubt, of Individual relief being granted to Petitioners, and convinced no case whatever is better entitled to relief than mine, I indulge in the hope (as the last) of a favourable issue to this application for my recall. My attatchment to the United States is unquestonable, and my greatest desire (next to the welfare of my family who are all American born) is to become a citizen of this my adopted country, and which I expected to obtain in July last, but was disappointed of, owing to my ignorance of the prior Step’s necessary to be taken, but as I have taken the oath of abjuration to all foreign Powers, and the oath of Alegiance to these United States, upwards of three years ago, there can be nothing else expected from me than the Duties of a citizen, all of which, God knows I have faithfully performed for nearly four years, (with the exception of voting at elections), therefore, if I am honoured with a citizenship, and I Humbly Solicit one from your hands, I shall endeavour to merit the Distinction to the last day of my existance.”

RC (DNA: RG 45, Subject File RN, box 600, Correspondence Relating to Aliens, Enemy and Neutral). 1 p.

1In the enclosed petition (1 p.), dated 1 Apr. 1813 and addressed to James Monroe, Swan stated that he had been ordered to leave the city of New York because he was a British subject. In 1805 he had emigrated from Ireland to New York, where he married, acquired property, and became a lieutenant in the militia. He had been on active duty from 15 Sept. through 1 Dec. 1812, during which time his dry goods business had suffered “Serious injury.” He asked to be allowed to continue conducting the business in order to support his family. Accompanying the petition were two statements on a single sheet: the first, undated, signed by merchants Daniel Austin and David Andrews, certifying that Swan had worked for them as a clerk from 1805 to 1809, that he was “Sober Honest, and Respectfull to the Laws and Government of this Country,” and that his petition was “Strictly Correct and True”; the second, dated 3 Apr. 1813 and signed by Austin, Andrews, and fifteen others, including U.S. Army and militia officers, supporting Swan’s petition. A 1 Apr. 1813 letter from Isaac C. Van Wyck, assistant postmaster at Fishkill, to New York marshal Peter Curtenius (1 p.) also accompanied the petition, stating that Van Wyck had examined Swan and concluded that he was “the person orderd. off as a British Subject in your pasport no. 2315.” The enclosed letter from Daniel D. Tompkins to Monroe, 24 Apr. 1813 (1 p.), confirmed Swan’s militia rank, noted that he had “served the United States nearly three months with reputation” and was “liable to be ordered into service” again, and requested “that he be permitted to return to his family & business” in New York (DNA: RG 45, Subject File RN, box 599, Correspondence Relating to Aliens, Enemy and Neutral).

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