Hudson River Valley History; Reese Family Papers Collection- “Jefferson Letter”

Authored by Alyssa Alonzo

Image of Thomas Jefferson Letter

Marist College, (1806, May). [Image of Letter written by Thomas Jefferson], Reese Family Papers File 34, Archival Collection of James A. Cannavino Library.

Ebenezer Stevens, was a participant in the Boston Tea Party, commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Artillery in 1775, and fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. George Washington selected Ebenezer to raise battalions against Quebec to join the expedition against Canada. Ebenezer was present at the surrender of the British General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, on October 17, 1777. He served under the French general the Marquis de Lafayette in Virginia. He was later transferred to the New York artillery and in 1781 was one of the commanders at the siege of Yorktown. By 1805 he had risen to the rank of Major General and was involved in the defense of New York during the War of 1812. After his military career, Stevens was a successful merchant in New York and a member of the state Assembly (Reese 2010).  Some of his other titles include: Superintended the construction of the fortifications on Governor’s Island, New York, in 1800 he helped defend the city in 1812, and was Senior Major-General until 1815 (Boston 2008).

The military was not the only area when Ebenezer Steven excelled. He was also quite successful in overseas trade, here is where some of the correspondence applies, hence the Jefferson Letter.  During his time as Major General, there was business correspondence between Ebenezer and Thomas Jefferson. In May 1806, a letter to Ebenezer Stevens from Thomas Jefferson sending a money order to cover cost of a wine order. In August 1805, a letter from a good friend, Horatio Gates is sent to Ebenezer ordering wine bottled. Horatio Gates was attempting to replace George Washington. In early December of 1776, Stevens obtained a leave of absence from General Gates. There was continued reports of the two crossing paths during the battles in Saratoga New York where Gates ordered purchase of supplies needed and Stevens oversaw (Magazine 1877).

Ebenezer Stevens is the descendant of a local Hudson River Valley native, Frances (Franny) Reese (1917-2003), daughter of Francis Kirby Stevens and Elizabeth Shaw Oliver. Franny was a founder of Scenic Hudson, which, beginning in the 1960s, fought for 17 years to prevent a power plant from being built on Storm King Mountain in New York. There is currently a park named in her memoriam, Franny Reese State Park overlooking the scenic Hudson River (Franny 2018). Ebenezer Stevens descendants were all successful in their pursuits, each of them embodied some aspect of the Vincentian values. He exhibited compassion, commitment to justice, and a perseverance in his service. Ebenezer died in Sept. 2, 1823 in Rockaway, New York, leaving a great legacy of a hero of American Revolution (Our Mission 2018).

This artifact is a letter from Thomas Jefferson dated May 5, 1806, with detail of attention to commission, salutations, and assurance of respect from Thomas Jefferson to Ebenezer Stevens. It exhibits a courteous regard with respect honored in the letters writing.



“Boston Tea Party Historical Society.” 2008. Accessed March 26, 2018. /participants/Ebenezer-Stevens.html.

“Franny Reese State Park | Scenic Hudson.” 2018. Accessed March 26, 2018. /parks/frannyreese.

“Magazine of American History: With Notes and Queries.” 1877. Accessed March 26, 2018.

“Our Mission | St. John’s University.” n.d. Accessed March 26, 2018.

“The Reese Family Papers.” 2010. Accessed March 26, 2018.



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