fig. 6. David Sewall, by John Johnston (1790). Courtesy of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine. Johnston (1753-1818), a native Bostonian who apprenticed under Christopher Gore’s father, was one of the city’s few painters to bridge the gap between John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart. This portrait captures Thatcher’s close friend and political confidant in his juridical garb as the first federal judge for the Maine District.


    To David Sewall

    Philadelphia        29 December 1791

    Dear Sir,

    Yesterday morning I called at the Office of State to enquire about the patent mentioned in yours of the 14th inst.1 but the Secretary nor his chief Clerk being within I left my business with an under Clerk, to let the Secretary know what I wanted, & desire him to send me an answer at the House—Accordingly I soon after received the Billet No. 1—And immediately wrote him billet No. 2—& received for answer, No. 3. Thus stands the matter at this time; tis probable, by next weeks mail, I shall have it in my power to forward a copy of the patent, or let you know the final determination of the Board of Acts, relative to that subject.

    When I wrote you last I foresaw many difficulties attending a prosecution of the Indian war that must tend to increase the expence of the military operations of the army in that quarter; but I did not contemplate so fatal an overthrow of the Troops as we have since been informed of: And which you have seen an account of in the papers.

    No official Letters have been laid before the House since Genl St. Clairs of the ninth Novemr. For some time after the receipt of this we apprehended that Fort Jefferson, with the troops left there, must unavoidably fall into the hands of the Indians; but from some later accounts, we beleive the Indians were too much glutten with plunder, and elated with their Victory of the fourth, to pursue the advantages they then had over our people—

    What plan the President will adopt relative to a further prosecution of the war against the indians we are not yet informed.

    The Quakers are petitioning warmly for lenient measures with the natives of the soil, & remonstrating against war2—But the Inhabitants of Fort-Pitt [Pittsburg], & the Frontiers of Pensylvania cry aloud for protection, & more Troops—And it is hoped a sense of danger will bring them to a sense of their duty with regard to the collection of the excise. For the people in two or three of those frontier Counties had formed plans of opposition to the excise Law; and were determined to tarr & feather the first officer who attempted to Execute it3—Perhaps, in this way good may be extracted from evil

    I am, dear Sir, Yours. &c

    * * *

    FC, TFP