Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Jefferson, 14 October 1799

To George Jefferson

Monticello Oct. 14. 99.

Dear Sir

By this post I forward the papers in the dispute between mr Ross & my [self] to Dr. Currie, who [has] agreed to be the [depository] of them. as I made paiments in money for a tobo. debt, I am entitled to have them converted into tobo. at the Cash price at which […] [I had purchased and inspected] tobo. on the 1st. of Jan. […] [and] […] [the prices] stated to me in your letter mr Rutherford purchased @ [20/ in Jan.?] […] and mr Brown’s @ 17/ in Oct. 9[0]. [on] those I would be glad to […] I have taken the liberty of stating in my observation to the arbitrators that you would furnish certificates of the prices at which […] were bought at those dates. if therefore you can learn any [thing] […] you […] liberty to give them in. I think it would be better to apply to mr Rutherford & mr Brown for their certificates that they bought at those prices before mr Ross [calls] on them, when received you may hold [them] untill called for by Dr. Currie or the arbitrators. I am Dear Sir

Your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

PrC (MHi); faint; at foot of text: “Mr. George Jefferson.”

TJ forwarded the papers relating to his dispute with David Ross. In 1783 TJ settled his account with the Scottishborn Virginia merchant, landowner, and industrialist, and made arrangements to pay approximately 15,000 pounds of tobacco and £215 in cash. In 1790 TJ found that according to Ross’s accounts he still owed the merchant £400 to £500. TJ calculated that he owed Ross about 28,000 pounds of tobacco and that Ross owed him £42.7.6. The disagreement, according to TJ, was over the price of TJ’s Elk Hill tobacco credited to the account in the early 1780s when Ross purchased it. TJ indicated that Ross had agreed to pay 36 shillings for tobacco that he subsequently credited to the account at 20 shillings. TJ began collecting papers and in 1791 proposed to Ross that they seek arbitration if they could not come to an agreement. The arbitration began in January 1801. A year later TJ made arrangements to acquire 20,000 pounds of tobacco to settle the debt according to the arbitrated agreement (Charles B. Dew, “David Ross and the Oxford Iron Works: A Study of Industrial Slavery in the Early Nineteenth-Century South,” WMQ, description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends 3d ser., 31 [1974], 190–2; MB, description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends 1:534–5; 2:1052-3; TJ to Francis Eppes, 25 July, 10 Oct. 1790; TJ to John Key, 8 Oct. 1790; TJ to Ross, 25 Oct. 1790, 6 May 1791; TJ to James Currie, 14 Dec. 1800). SJL records a letter from TJ to Ross of 23 Oct. 1794, plus five others from 28 Aug. 1798 to 14 June 1799, none of which has been found. A dozen letters written by Ross to TJ from 25 June 1798 through 20 June 1799 are also missing, as is one that TJ received from Richmond two days after it was written on 24 Sep. 1801.

A letter from George Jefferson to TJ of 23 Sep., recorded in SJL as received four days later with the notation “ads. Ross,” has not been found.

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