Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Eli Alexander, 27 May 1810

To Eli Alexander

Monticello May 27. 10.


Having been obliged to purchase corn this year to the amount of 1200.D and great engagements on that account becoming due at our next court & from thence to the 1st of July, I had otherwise1 arranged with mr Higginbotham to whom your last year’s rent had been destined, so as to avail myself of it for these pressing calls. and I counted on the reciept of it not only from the advanced season of the year, but on a knolege that you had disposed of a sufficiency of your crop, and it is certainly understood among all men that rent is the first debt to be paid out of the produce of the land. I sent mr Bacon to you to inform you of my necessities2 for our ensuing court, & with 110.D. in part3 he brought me a very unsatisfactory answer as to the balance that it was impossible for you to pay it then, or to fix any definite time. I can only answer this by declaring another impossibility, to wit, that I cannot do without it beyond that term, or so many days after it as I can persuade my corn creditors to give you. my engagements to them are fixed, & tho’ under any circumstances which would admit delay, I should be very unwilling to take any measure which should injure your credit, yet the preservation of my own is a superior consideration. corn is always a ready money article. it was delivered me on a short credit, from a confidence in my word. this I cannot sacrifice for any considerations, & therefore am obliged to say in peremptory terms that I cannot admit of a longer delay than abovementioned. I hope then that you will take effectual measures to relieve me from the difficulties I am under, and from the painful necessity of further requisition. in this confidence I assure you of my earnest desire to avoid it, & of my best wishes to yourself

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Alexander”; endorsed by TJ.

Missing letters from David higginbotham of 10 and 16 June 1810 are recorded in SJL as received from Milton on 14 and 19 June 1810. On 17 May 1810 TJ received $110, Alexander’s rent in part for 1809, and on 8 Aug. 1810 Alexander made another payment in the same amount “on account of rent of 1809” (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1257, 1259).

1Word interlined.

2Manuscript: “necesities.”

3Preceding four words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Alexander, Eli; and rent search
  • Alexander, Eli; letters to search
  • Bacon, Edmund; and rent collection search
  • corn; TJ buys search
  • Higginbotham, David; letters from accounted for search
  • Higginbotham, David; merchant search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; dispute with E. Alexander search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Overseers at; deliver messages for TJ search
  • overseers; TJ entrusts documents to search
  • rent; due from E. Alexander search
  • Shadwell (TJ’s estate); rent due on search