From James Ash, with Jefferson’s Note
Baltimore 29th. April 1803
The proposals, which I had the honor to transmit you some time ago, for “The American Law of Merchants,” have been returned with your Signature.”
Agreeably to the conditions, be pleased to transmit me the advance therein required; because I consider my character pledged for the return of every Cent, if the undertaking should not be sufficiently encouraged, to authorize the publication, and reward my labor. Besides my present necessities, from Judicial persecution, which will be reasonably explained to my fellow Citizens, require every aid to forward the Work Contemplated; and it is trusted, whatever defects it may Contain, will be attributed to inability, and not to the want of zeal and faithful endeavours in the execution.
I have the honor to be Sir, Yr: mo: ob: Hble: Servt:
[Note by TJ:]
May 11. inclosd. 5. D. to author at Baltimore.
RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, President, of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 May and so recorded in SJL.
According to his financial memoranda of 11 May, TJ remitted a $5 advance for the book (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 , 2:1100). On 14 May, Ash acknowledged receipt of payment with “his compliments” to TJ and noted: “Received from the President of the United States, by Mail, Five Dollars,” being in full, “for one Copy of The American Law of merchants, to be ‘sent to press whenever there is a sufficient fund to defray the expence of printing’ ” (RC in MHi; endorsed by TJ as received from Baltimore on 17 May and so recorded in SJL).