Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Nicholas Lewis, 26 June 1791

To Nicholas Lewis

Philadelphia June 26. 1791.

Dear Sir

On my return here from a journey of a month I found a letter of Mr. Hylton’s dated May 29. informing me there were yet but 2 more hhds. of my tobo. arrived at Richmond (after the 17 which he had sent.) Uneasy at this, from the engagement I had entered into here, in my letter of two or three days ago to my daughter, I desired her to have this mentioned to you lest there should be a stoppage of the Bedford tobo. somewhere, of which you might not be apprised. However the receipt of your letter which came to hand yesterday, and one from Mr. Hylton informing me that 22. hhds. more were shipped for Philadelphia, have relieved all my anxiety on that subject. These when arrived will make 39. and those you speak of as yet to come will fill up the expectations I had given the purchaser.—I observe Wilson only states the money he has paid to Dobson. What I was desirous of knowing was how much we might count upon from the bonds which had been put into his hands and not yet accounted for. You know in our estimate, we supposed that, with interest, it would amount to £525. From this however there will be a deduction of Mr. Randolph’s account and interest. I had not supposed I had recieved so much flour from him, but I have always reason to distrust my memory, and none to doubt his account, which therefore is to be credited. Whenever you can inform me exactly or nearly how much the bonds still due (and counted by us at £525) will really be I shall be obliged to you. The two hogsheads of hams are arrived, but we have not yet opened them.—The time of my return home is not yet fixed. I suppose it will be towards the latter part of August, and to remain to the middle of October. As there are generally things to be done by the carpenters which can only be done when I am present to direct them, I should be glad if it could be so contrived as that they shall be disengaged and in Albemarle while I am at home.—The last part of your letter shall be last answered. It is with infinite regret, my dear Sir, that I learn your purpose of withdrawing from the direction of my affairs. My confidence in you has been so entire, that since they have been in your hands I have never had an anxiety about them. I saw indeed that you took a great deal more trouble about them than I could expect or wish, and I feared it would lead you to an entire relinquishment of them. Instead of having a right to urge a continuance of such a drudgery on you, it is my duty to be thankful that you have submitted to it so long, and I am so, sincerely and thoroughly. What I am next to do with them, I am utterly at a loss to devise. Stewards of the common description are a most unhopeful dependance. I must ask you to turn this matter in your mind, and to advise with me when I come home on what I can best do. With respect to Clarke, I shall be for doing exactly what you think best, and will be glad to confirm any arrangement you may be so good as to make with him for me, in his present concern. Present me very affectionately to Mrs. Lewis, & be assured of the esteem & attachment of Dear Sir Your sincere friend & servt,

Th: Jefferson

RC (NHi); addressed: “Colo. Nicholas Lewis near Charlottesville.” PrC (MHi).

TJ’s expression of relief from anxiety about the experiment of selling his tobacco in Philadelphia was premature, as his later correspondence with Hylton soon revealed. Robert Coventry had reported for James Brown that “two Hhds. of Bacon had been received from Lewis on 18 May and forwarded the next day” (Coventry to TJ, 19 May 1791, enclosing bill of lading showing shipment by the sloop Phoenix, Capt. John Sheppard, with freight charges of $6; RC and enclosure in MHi; endorsed by TJ as received 21 June 1791 and so recorded in SJL). The shipment, as TJ indicates, contained hams. The term bacon was occasionally applied to hams (DAE description begins Sir William A. Craigie and James Hulbert, eds., A Dictionary of American English, Chicago, 1938–1944 description ends ).

Hylton’s letter of 17 June and that of Lewis of 20 June 1791, both dated at Richmond, are recorded in SJL as received on the 25th. Lewis evidently replied to the above letter on 16 Aug. 1791 since one of that date, written from Albemarle, is recorded in SJL as received on the 26th. None of these letters has been found.

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