Skip to main content
View PDF

John R[ichardson] B[ayard] Rodgers to MVB, 28 January 1825


I am about to ask a Favor of you in behalf of an unfortunate Son of mine-he is confined as a Prisoner at Pernambuco in South America, and I fear for his Life as well as personal Liberty. The circumstances of his case are as follows-he sailed as Second mate in a merchant vessel from this point in January 1823, and arrived at Pernambuco some time in February of that year. Soon after his arrival there, he left the vessel he went out in, & entered the naval Service of the Brazilian government as a Second Lieutenant. He continued in that service ‘till he was induced by some of the Pernambucans to join them in their opposition to, and revolt from the government of the Emperor of the Brazils; and was in the confidence of the chief of the place whom the Pernambucans stiled their President, and was made a Lieutenant commanding a vessel at the time the Place was taken on the 17th. of September last. At that time the Fleet & army of the Emperor completely subdued all opposition. After this defeat my Son sought safety on board a Dutch galliot, the captain of which gave him up to the Brazilian Authority; he has ever since been confined as a Prisoner-and is now in danger of his Life. Now, altho’ my Son was wrong in leaving the regular trade & Service of his country, & joining a foreign service; and altho’ he may be subject to the penalty he incurred by forsaking the service of the Emperor of the Brazils, & joining those the Emperor stiles Rebels-yet I think some plea might be set up, so as to save his Life,-by urging the circumstance that,-the Brazilian Independence itself was not yet secured-they themselves being in revolt against their mother country-and that, in all Revolutions & changes of the supreme authority, excesses & imprudencies are committed by the subordinate officers. I will not say that my Son has done right in joining in the contentions of south america. My own convictions are that he has done wrong-but still he is an American by Birth and the Child & dependent of American Patriots of the Revolution and of his Liberty & Life cannot be deprived as ^a^ Right by our government yet it may be asked as a Favor. I pray you my Dear Sir to say such things to the Secretary of State as may serve my unfortunate Son. With much personal Respect I have the Honor to be your obed. Servant

John R.B. Rodgers

My sons name is James H. Rodgers, born [...] city—this in October 1799.

Images for this document are currently unavailable.
Source: MHi, Massachusetts Historical Society
Collection: Adams Papers (MHi)
Series: Series 5 (1 January 1825-3 March 1829)