Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to George Callaway, 21 September 1811

To George Callaway

Monticello Sep. 21. 11.


My wheat made at Poplar forest the last year was delivered at your mill under a contract made by yourself with mr Griffin to give me a barrel of flour warranted superfine at the Richmond inspection for every five bushels. when your milldam was carried away, I pressed for a relinquishment1 of the bargain, and redelivery of the wheat, making reasonable allowance for diminution of quantity. you declined doing it. when the dam was carried away a second time I pressed the same thing again, but you again refused it, & the bargain was thus doubly and trebly insisted on, on your part. the quantity delivered you was 1397. bushels, which, at 5. bushels to the barrel, entitled me to recieve 279 barrels of superfine flour. I have recieved however but 232. barrels (some of which was not superfine) so that 47 barrels are still due to me. I sold what I recieved at an average of 9¼ Dollars in Richmond, which netted me 7¾ D a barrel. this on 47 barrels amounts to 367. D 35 c  Mr Griffin informs me that on application for what is due you referred him to mr Mitchell. but be pleased to observe, Sir, that I did not make the contract with mr Mitchell, and cannot of right be turned over to him; altho’ I shall willingly accept his assumpsit, if he will give it: but this he declines. I am not without a due consideration of your misfortune in the loss of your dam, and not disposed therefore to an over-rigorous adherence to all the rights which the bargain gives me. but you must be sensible that 367. D 35 c would be a greater sacrifice than could in reason be expected from a mere stranger. I have desired mr Griffin to call on you personally & to ask your final answer; which I hope will be so reasonable as to relieve me from any adversary proceedings, which it would be painful for me to engage in. Accept the assurances of my respect.

Th: Jefferson

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

George Callaway (ca. 1786–1822), farmer and physician, lived in Bedford County near Lynchburg on an estate inherited from his father in 1809. He operated a mill on land between the fork of Blackwater Creek and the James River. In 1818 Callaway moved to Nelson County. When he died he owned personal property valued at just over $10,000, including twenty-five slaves and numerous debts owed to him (Ruth H. Early, Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches, Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782–1926 [1927], 363; Alexander Brown, The Cabells and their Kin, 2d ed., rev. [1939, repr. 1994], 397–8; Bedford Co. Will Book, 3:214–7; DNA: RG 29, CS, Nelson Co., 1820; Richmond Enquirer, 8 Oct. 1822; Nelson Co. Superior Court Will Book, A:11–2, 13–20, 21).

TJ’s earlier understanding of their bargain had Callaway producing one barrel of superfine flour per 5½ rather than 5 bushels of wheat (TJ to Charles A. Scott, 9 Feb. 1811). For payment Callaway had referred TJ’s overseer to William or Reuben Mitchell.

Letters from TJ to Burgess Griffin of 9 and 21 Sept. 1811, not found, are recorded in SJL, as is a missing letter from Griffin to TJ of 14 Sept. 1811, received from Poplar Forest on 17 Sept. 1811.

1Preceding two words interlined in place of “an annulment.”

Index Entries

  • Callaway, George; identified search
  • Callaway, George; letters to search
  • Callaway, George; TJ’s dispute with search
  • dams; destroyed search
  • flour; from Poplar Forest search
  • flour; price of search
  • Griffin, Burgess; letters from accounted for search
  • Griffin, Burgess; letters to accounted for search
  • Griffin, Burgess; Poplar Forest overseer search
  • Mitchell, William & Reuben (Lynchburg firm); TJ’s transactions with search
  • overseers; make contracts for sale of wheat search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); flour from search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); Overseers at; make contracts for sale of wheat search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); wheat grown at search
  • Richmond, Va.; flour prices at search
  • Richmond, Va.; wheat prices in search
  • wheat; at Poplar Forest search
  • wheat; price of in Richmond search
  • wheat; TJ’s income from search