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The first Jefferson was a schooner purchased in 1802 by the United States Revenue Cutter Service and stationed at Norfolk, Va., where at the beginning of the War of 1812, she was placed under Navy orders, Captain William Ham, USRCS, In command.

She captured a British brig bound for Halifax from the West Indies in June 1812 and later in the summer she took British schooner Patriot. She captured three English barges in the James River 11 April 1813 and freed the crew of American schooner Flight, seized only a few hours before by the barges.

In the summer of 1817, she captured Spanish brig Providentia, the unlawful prize of Buenos Aires privateer Mangero. Inconclusive evidence indicates that about this time Jefferson may have taken a second Spanish ship, also a prize of Mangero. Later in the year Jefferson was sold.