Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Brown, 17 March 1791

To William Brown

Philadelphia Mar. 17. 1791.


Your favor of Mar. 11. was received yesterday. You will pardon me if I adhere to the price of my tobacco, because I know that I am justified in it’s quality established for at least fifty years back. You will have observed that Capt. Woodford had ensured @ £11. sterl. the hhd. so that1 I could have had £12. sterl. for it at the time had I sold it in Virginia; less than I could have sold it for in the country then, I cannot consent to take nor do I believe it ever sold for so little in London. The account will stand thus:

Thos. Adams in account2 with Th: Jefferson

Dr. Cr. 1771. July 19. By goods as stated by Mr. Brown £25-16-4 £. s.d. Aug. 9. By do. do. 4- 6-0 30-2-4 1772. Jan. 28. By do. sent by Capt. Woodford 36-1-7 July. To 4. hhds. tobo. shipped by Woodford @ £12 48- 0-0 1773. To pd. W. T. Lewis by your order £4-8-6 currency 3-10-10 Balance 14-13-1 sterl. 66-3-11 66-3-11 Balance as above £14-13-1 8. year’s interest as proposed by Mr. B. 5-17-4 20-10-5

If you think proper to settle the matter thus I will, by return of the post which brings me your letter, send you post notes for 91. Dol. 20 cents the equivalent in our money. It is as unexpected to me that I owe a copper on this account, as to you that I do not owe the whole debt; and it is my firm expectation that the tobacco, if sold by itself, must have paid the whole debt because of it’s quality, and because no [demand, after a lapse of 18. or 19. years has ever come from Mr. Adams, Perkins Buchanan & Brown, or any person in possession of the books. If the price for the tobo. before stated does not meet your approbation, I can get from Richmond a certificate from the books of the merchant who bought the residue of my crop the same year, of the rate at which he paid me for it. This method of proving the value never occurred to me before, and will produce but a short delay. I am with great esteem Sir Your most obedt. humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson]

Tr (ViU); in a 19th century hand; portions in brackets: PrC (ViU: Edgehill-Randolph Papers). Brown’s letter of 11 Mch. 1791, recorded in SJL as received on the 16th, has not been found. An earlier one of 14 Feb. 1791, recorded as received on the 23rd, is also missing.

1Tr reads “as,” an obvious error.

2Tr  reads “Adamson,” another error.

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