Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William McClure, 10 September 1811

To William McClure

Monticello Sep. 10. 1811.


In order to commence the establishment for family manufacture in our neighborhood, on which we conversed the other day, I will, for myself, engage of you a spinning Jenny, and a loom with a flying shuttle, doing towards them myself whatever my workmen can do; I will furnish six women or girls to work for myself on them under your direction, build a house for them to lodge in, contribute to a common manufacturing room, & dwelling house for yourself, all of logs, furnish subsistence for my own people, contribute a quota of corn & pork for that of your family, furnish the materials for my own people to work up, giving you, for your trouble, such proportion of what shall be woven as shall be agreed on: all however on the conditions that the numbers to be employed in the factory shall not exceed a limit to be agreed on, and that the establishment shall be at a distance to be agreed on from the two1 towns in the neighborhood, & on the opposite side of the river from them: and I should suggest as a convenient position some spot in the woods near the Edgehill and Lego line, where a spring may be found. these propositions are submitted to you for consideration, with my best wishes for the success of the establishment, & for your own welfare.

Th: Jefferson

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

William McClure (McLure), weaver, successfully petitioned the South Carolina legislature in 1795 to authorize a lottery to help him establish a cotton factory in that state. After acquiring a reputation as a skilled manufacturer of spinning machines, he relocated to North Carolina in the winter of 1808–09. McClure moved to Albemarle County in 1811 at the behest of TJ, Thomas Mann Randolph, James Monroe, and eight of their neighbors, each of whom pledged $50 toward the liquidation of his North Carolina debts. In that year TJ and Randolph also hired McClure to superintend their small cloth factory and instruct slaves assigned to learn the art of spinning there. He gave up the position two years later, after his charges were sufficiently skilled to carry on without him (Acts and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the state of South Carolina passed in Nov. and Dec. 1795 [Charleston, S.C., 1796], 19–20; Raleigh Star, 16 Feb., 6 Apr. 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 , esp. 2:1278, 1279, 1286; TJ to Nathaniel Macon, 24 Sept. 1811; TJ to McClure, 16 Oct. 1813; McClure’s signature as witness to Will of Anne Scott Marks, 26 Mar. 1813; Letter of Recommendation for McClure by TJ and Randolph, 12 Mar. 1814).

The two towns in the neighborhood, Charlottesville and Milton, were both situated on the southern side of the Rivanna River.

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Albemarle County, Va.; cloth factory in search
  • Charlottesville, Va.; spinning and weaving factory in search
  • corn; as food search
  • Edgehill (T. M. Randolph’s Albemarle Co. estate); spring near search
  • food; pork search
  • Lego (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); and W. McClure’s weaving establishment search
  • looms search
  • machines; loom search
  • machines; spinning jenny search
  • manufacturing, household; Albemarle Co. cloth factory search
  • McClure (McLure), William; and Albemarle Co. cloth factory search
  • McClure (McLure), William; identified search
  • McClure (McLure), William; letters to search
  • Milton, Va.; cloth factory in search
  • pork; received as pay search
  • spinning jennies search
  • textiles; home manufacture of search