Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, 9 January 1801

To Thomas Mann Randolph

Washington Jan. 9. 1801.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 3d. came to hand yesterday. I suspect that I mistook our post day when I first arrived here, and put the letters you mention into the post office a day too late. I shall be glad if you will mention when that of the 1st. instant gets to you, as well as the present & future letters, that if there be any thing wrong in the post I may get it rectified. the mail for Milton is made up here on Friday at 5. P.M. that Craven’s house should not have been in readiness surprises me. I left J. Perry’s people putting up the last course of shingles, & the plank for the floor & loft planed, & they assured me they could finish every thing in a week. they must have quit immediately. but the most extraordinary of all things is that there should have been no clearing done. I left Monticello on Monday the 24th. Nov. from which time there were 4. weeks to Christmas, and the hands ordered to be with Lilly that morning (except I think two) and according to his calculation & mine 3. or 4. acres a week should have been cleared. but the misunderstanding between him & Richardson had before cost me as good as all the labour of the hired hands from Jany. to June when I got home. the question now however is as to the remedy. you have done exactly what I would have wished, and as I place the compliance with my contract with mr Craven before any other object, we must take every person from the nailery able to cut and keep them at it till the clearing is completed. the following therefore must be so employed. Davy, John, Abram, Shepherd, Moses, Joe, Wormly, Jame Hubard, with the one hired by Lilly making 9. besides these, if Barnaby, Ben, Cary, & Isabel’s Davy are able to cut, as I suppose they are, let them also join: shoemaker Phill also if he can cut. I doubt it, & that he had better continue to be hired. these make 13. or 14. with whom the clearing which I was to do this year, ought not to be a long job. there will remain for the nailery Burwell, Jamy, Bedf. John. Bedf. Davy. Phill Hub. Lewis, Bartlet & Brown, enough for two fires; this course I would have pursued even after Powell’s arrival, as I had rather derange his department where the loss concerns myself only than one which affects another. I wrote pressingly to mr Eppes to hire some hands for me, and am not without hopes he may have done it. if they arrive, I would still not draw off the nailers till the clearing is completed. I wrote to Lilly yesterday covering an order for some money. I had not then received your letter, so the one to him says nothing on this subject. I must therefore get the favor of you to deliver him the orders.

Nothing further can be said or discovered on the subject of the election. we have 8. votes in the H. of R. certain, & there are 3. other states Maryld. Delaware & Vermont from either of which if a single individual comes over, it settles the matter. but I am far from confiding that a single one will come over. Pensylvania has shewn what men are when party takes place of principle. the Jersey election has been a great event. but nothing seems to bend the spirit of our opponents. I believe they will carry their judiciary bill. as to the treaty I must give no opinion. but it must not be imagined that any thing is too bold for them. I had expected that some respect to the palpable change in public opinion would have produced moderation. but it does not seem so. a commee reported that the Sedition law ought to be continued, and the first question on the subject in the house has been carried by 47. against 33.—we have a host of republicans absent. Gallatin, Livingston, Nicholson, Tazewell, Cabell cum multis aliis. the mercantile towns are almost unanimous in favour of the treaty. yet it seems not to soften their friends in the Senate. I recieved notices from Dick Johnson to attend the taking depositions in Milton on the 2d. Saturday in Feb. & 2d. Saturday in March, at mr Price’s. I do not expect his witnesses have any thing material to say. however if it should not be inconvenient to you to ride there at the hour of 12. and to ask any questions which may be necessary to produce the whole truth, I shall be obliged to you. my unchangeable and tenderest love to my ever dear Martha, and to the little ones: affectionate attachment to yourself. Adieu.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “T M Randolph”; endorsed by Randolph as received 22 Jan. PrC (MHi); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

I wrote pressingly to Mr Eppes: TJ to John Wayles Eppes, 23 Dec. 1800. The letter that TJ wrote to Gabriel Lilly on 8 Jan. is recorded in SJL but has not been found. It is the first of 122 letters, which according to SJL, TJ exchanged with Lilly between January 1801 and September 1806, all of which are missing. For the order for payment in the first letter, see TJ to George Jefferson, 5 Jan.

If a single individual comes over, it settles the matter: George Baer was evidently the Federalist in Maryland whom some Republicans believed would carry the state for TJ by joining Republicans Gabriel Christie, Joseph H. Nicholson, Samuel Smith, and George Dent, who was elected as a Federalist but voted with the Republicans a majority of the time. As Delaware’s only congressman, James A. Bayard controlled the vote of that state. While correspondents such as Caesar A. Rodney and Benjamin Hichborn assured TJ that Bayard favored his election, Bayard on 7 Jan. informed Alexander Hamilton: “I am by no means decided as to the object of preference.” He noted that he would “wait the approach of the crisis” before making his decision. On 16 Jan. Hamilton wrote Bayard a long letter in which he tried, but without success, to persuade him to vote for TJ. With only two congressmen, Vermont was the other divided state. Some thought Lewis R. Morris, nephew of Senator Gouverneur Morris, would join Matthew Lyon in casting the state’s vote for TJ. On 5 Feb. Edward Livingston confidently predicted that TJ would be quickly elected: “A member from the opposite side of one of the divided States has already pledged himself to decide the vote of his State in our favor—there is great probability that another from the remaining divided State will follow his example, and as I can not learn that the Representative from Delaware has firmly entered into the views of his party, I think it probable that he too will join our ballot.” Albert Gallatin more than 40 years later recalled that on the day the voting began he “knew positively” that Baer would cast his vote for TJ and decide the election. He thought Morris would bring Vermont into TJ’s column as well (Syrett, Hamilton, 25:299–302, 319–24; Henry Adams, The Life of Albert Gallatin [Philadelphia, 1879], 248–50; Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, new ser., 29 [1919], 103–4; Dauer, Adams Federalists description begins Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, Baltimore, 1953 description ends , 323; Rodney to TJ, 28 Dec. 1800; Hichborn to TJ, 5 Jan. 1801).

On 31 Dec. the House Committee of Revisal and Unfinished Business recommended that a bill be brought in to continue the Sedition law, which was to expire on 3 Mch. 1801, and the House on 2 Jan. voted 47 to 33 in favor of considering the resolution. After extended debates from 21 to 23 Jan., Speaker of the House Theodore Sedgwick cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of bringing in a bill. Gallatin and Joseph H. Nicholson were present for the vote on 23 Jan., but the other Republicans singled out by TJ were still absent. Jonas Platt brought in the bill on 19 Feb. and it passed to a second reading but was defeated by a 49 to 53 vote two days later (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 10:876–7, 916–40, 946–58, 960–76; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:751–2, 771–3, 808–9, 816–17).

Notices from Dick Johnson: several years earlier Richard Johnson had initiated a suit against TJ, contesting his ownership of a portion of the land called Pouncey’s tract. TJ responded by bringing his own suit. In August 1800 TJ paid Francis Taliaferro, Albemarle County deputy sheriff, for serving writs and the next month he paid for the attendance of a witness in the case. Dabney Carr and James Barbour were serving as TJ’s attorneys (TJ to George Jefferson, 12 July 1799; 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 , 2:1003, 1024, 1027).

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