To James Walter
Washington Mar. 19. 1802.
Your favor of the 8th. inst. was recieved on the 12th. I am duly sensible of the mark of respect to me which you are pleased to testify by the name you propose to give to the town you are about to establish. it is the more grateful to me as it comes from a person, uninfluenced by personal acquaintance, and who has been able to judge me by my actions, unblinded by the mists of unprincipled slander under which public prints endeavor to cover me from the view of my constituents. with respect to the name proposed I have only to observe that it has been already given by an act of the Virginia legislature to a small town laid out on James river, the situation of which however does not seem to promise success to it’s establishment. Accept my best wishes and assurances of respect & consideration.
RC (MoSHi: Jefferson Papers); at foot of text: “Mr James Walter”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.
SMALL TOWN: Jefferson, located 35 miles above Richmond and situated on the south bank of the James River in Powhatan County, was founded by Samuel Hyde Saunders and officially established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in December 1794 (Agnes Evans Gish, “‘A place of considerable trade for its size’ Jefferson: A James River Canal Town,” Virginia Cavalcade, 50 , 88–95; Acts Passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Richmond, on Tuesday, the Eleventh Day of November, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Four [Richmond, 1795; Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends No. 29796], 25). As of January 1801, the Virginia General Assembly had already established a Jefferson County, a Jeffersonville in Tazewell County, and a Jeffersonton in Culpeper County (Acts Passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia [Richmond, 1801; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 1584], 17, 18; J. E. Worcester, A Gazetteer of the United States Abstracted from the Universal Gazetteer of the Author; with Enlargement of the Principal Articles [Andover, Mass., 1818; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 46867]).