Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Vaughan, Jr., 4 October 1790

From Samuel Vaughan, Jr.

St. James’s, Jamaica 4 Octr. 1790


My Father lately sent me a Note of your’s requesting some seeds of the Mountain Rice. I am sorry I cannot accommodate you as You would wish, but I do what I can by sending you 40 Seeds by two different opportunities. Inclosed is 20 of them. In the Middle Parts of Hispaniola it is in great Plenty, and I had a Promise of 2 Barrs. A Scarcity of Provisions first, and then the Disturbances have disappointed me in my Expectations. If ever they are sent I shall amply supply you.

The Seeds I have at present, came from the Island of Timor in the East Indies, brought by the unfortunate Capt. Bligh. I had near 200 of them thro’ my Brother from Sir Joseph Banks: I have given them in small Parcels to the Mountain settlers and have the pleasure to find it succeeds both with them and myself remarkably well.

I take the liberty of inclosing the Objects and Rules of an Agriculture Society just formed in the Mountains of this Parish. Meeting at each others houses, and the novelty of it enduced us at first to call it a Club. But its great and extensive benefit to the Mountain Settlements of this Country places it in the first mentioned Class. Any seeds Plants or Communications that you may have it in your power to communicate, will be very thankfully received.

I have often regretted that no Opportunity has given me the power of encreasing by a personal intercourse the pleasure and improvement I have derived from the Information you have given to the World. With every possible Respect I remain Dear Sir Your very obedt. Servt.,

Samuel Vaughan Jun.

RC (MiU-C); endorsed as received 22 Nov. 1790 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Printed broadside, The objects and rules of the Saint James’s Mountain Club, [St. James, Jamaica, 1790?], setting forth the purposes of a monthly dining club as follows: “To promote and improve the different Cultures that are at present in the Mountains, and to encourage attempts to introduce new ones.—Mutually to assist each with our advice, concealing nothing that experience or information may have furnished us with, that is likely to aid each other in our difficulties.—To improve the communications between each other, and to the more settled parts.—To encourage New Settlements in the Mountains, by every act a good neighbourship.—To encrease the sociability of the Mountain Settlers, for our mutual improvement and pleasure.—In short … to encourage a stricter attention to those duties that every man owes to his Neighbour and Fellow-Citizen, but which are the more requisite where a country is but thinly settled, and where the Settlements are new” (DLC).

On 3 Nov. 1790 Vaughan wrote TJ again enclosing “20 more seeds of the Mountain Rice,” being “almost ashamed to send … so small a quantity,” but referring TJ to the above letter for explanation (RC in MiU-C; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Dec. 1790 and so recorded in SJL). W. C. Ford’s selection from the Bixby manuscripts (Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, [Boston, 1916], p. 45), has an enclosure, not found, reading as follows: “Directions to be observed with the Mountain Rice—It is to be sown like Indian Corn, three Seeds in a Hole. In the East they do not cover the Holes with Earth but leave them exposed. If they are covered it should be very lightly. They should be sown in Spring as they do not bear the winter—or in a Hothouse. The Plants may be transplanted and seperated and planted at greater distances when young. Great Care must be taken to prevent Fowls getting at it when ripe. New Land is the best for it, but it succeeds here in Jamaica on Ridges and in Glades. It will not live under Water.”

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