James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Philip Turner, 28 July 1813

From Philip Turner

At the Garrison Fort-Columbus 28th. July 1813.

To the Honble. James Madison Esqr president of the United States, The Head of the nation, where reigns silence & peace, a Confidential information of real and troublesome facts, some of our first officers in public service, posted at the most respectable posts, are not in manner and Conduct as they ought to be, they are imprudent, and not of our goverment, we are insulted by them, more or less every day, by telling us, you democrats, dont know how to Carry on a War, repeating every disaster with abuse, it is high time they were known, and a line drawn between the friend & foe, and they placed in front of Action, pushed on by the democrats bayonet, and sent to the devil their own way, hear you see, I grow mad, your excellency will excuse the mode of expression, these are the men that ought to suffer, I know them at this critical period to the prejudice of the public, a Brevet Genl. inimical, and a Lt. Colo. no better, Hypochondriac enthusiasts they ought to be sent to the lines and suffer accordingly, If, I find this, of any effect, my Name & services are the presidents, as it has been for many years, I dont mean to be in the dark, I am led on by duty, Genl. Armstrong an active Majr. Genl. of the field, Danel. Parker Esqr.1 his first Clerk in his stead at the War Office, who has the business before him, Genl. Lewis to the Command of the 3rd. district N: York, is the voice of the people, If the president wishes to know more of me, Mr. Gidn. Granger and Mr. Danel. Parker will inform him. I am the presidents Obt. Servt.

Philip Turner2
who wishes to have
his commission Issued &
sent on to him


1Daniel Parker (1782–1846) graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801, read law, and opened a practice in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Sometime before the War of 1812, he moved to Washington to become chief clerk of the War Department. He was appointed adjutant and inspector general in 1814 and served in that capacity until 1821. In 1841 he returned to the War Department as chief clerk (Francis S. Drake, Dictionary of American Biography, Including Men of the Time … [Boston, 1879], 687; Daily National Intelligencer, 7 Apr. 1846).

2Philip Turner (1740–1815), a native of Norwich, Connecticut, received medical training there from his foster father, Dr. Elisha Tracy, and served as a surgeon’s mate during the French and Indian War. He returned to Norwich and opened a general and surgical practice, joined Connecticut troops at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and in 1777 received an appointment in the Continental Army as surgeon general of hospitals in New York and New England. Retiring from this position in 1781, Turner resumed private practice in Norwich. In 1800 he moved to New York and began a campaign to receive compensation for his services during the Revolution; Congress granted his claim in 1808. He was appointed a surgeon’s mate in 1802 but not assigned to a post until 1809, when he was sent first to Ellis Island and then to Fort Columbus on Governor’s Island. In February 1813 the Senate confirmed Turner’s nomination as surgeon in the First Regiment of Artillery, but with the given name of Peter rather than Philip. Despite Parker’s assurance that the mistake would be corrected and the commission sent, and despite Turner’s frequent reminders to government officials, he never received his commission (Charles B. Graves, “Dr. Philip Turner of Norwich, Connecticut,” Annals of Medical History 10 [1928]: 1–24).

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