Thomas Jefferson Papers

James McKinney to Thomas Jefferson, 30 March 1809

From James McKinney

Short Creek Brooke County Virginia March 30th 1809.


For a number of years past I have wishd to be in your employ, (provided it would be under your immediate direction) in Any capacity that I would be found usefull, that wish is now encreasd Since you have declined all publick business—I am a Native of Pennsylvania (Lancaster County) & have been regularly bred to farming & Manufactering of flour on an extencive Scale—I removed with my family about 7 years ago to this place I am the flour Inspector & Post Master here, but the perquisites of both are Small—But the principal disadvantage I labour under here is the want of Schools & Suitable Mecanicks to put my sons to, to learn trades, as few of them are Masters of their Several branches they profess1 & what is [worse],2 are generally disapated Characters—I have Six Sons & one Daughter all promising children, the eldest is 14 years, If I could get them taught Some usefull Mechanical branch, Accompanied with a tolarable english education, that they would become usefull Citizens I would close the Scene as it respects this world, without a wish—My constitution is good 36 years of age & able to undergo the fatagues of any reasonable business—I am well Aware it is useless to Apply to you, without the most Satisfactory recommendation, as to Honesty, [Sobrie]ty, & Industry, Also being fully capable of rende[ring] full Satisfaction in whatever I would undertake, which I trust I can do—I was in Richmond & the City of Washington in November last & intended to call on you personally but Congress being then in Session I thought it was not probable you could attend to any local business at that time—If you would think of employing me a line directed to me at this place will be promptly attended to—The name of this Office is Short Creek Va

I am Sir Your Hu St

James McKinney

RC (MHi); mutilated at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Apr. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

James McKinney (b. ca. 1773) was a postmaster (1808–10) and miller in Brooke County, in what is now West Virginia. By 1810 he was living at Slate Mills in Culpeper (now Rappahannock) County but later that year he settled in Milton, where he began a partnership with Thomas Mann Randolph to operate TJ’s manufacturing mill (Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 26; Betts, Farm Book description begins Edwin M. Betts, ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, 1953 description ends , 342).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Omitted word editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • manufacturing, household; mills search
  • McKinney, James; identified search
  • McKinney, James; letters from search
  • McKinney, James; partnership with T. M. Randolph search
  • McKinney, James; seeks employment search
  • mills; manufacturing search
  • Milton, Va.; manufacturing mill at search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); manufacturing mill at Milton search