I. Thomas Jefferson to William Wirt
Monticello Apr. 12. 12.
Mr Livingston’s1 suit having gone off on the plea to the jurisdiction, it’s foundation remains of course unexplained to the public. I have therefore concluded to make it public2 thro’ the ordinary channel of the press. an earlier expectation of the pamphlets and the desire to send you one has delayed, from post to post, my sooner acknoleging your kind aid in this case, and praying your acceptance of the remuneration I now inclose, for the trouble I gave you in reading so much stuff on the subject, and your exertions in the defence. The debt of gratitude however is of a different nature, & is sincerely felt. considering the infinite trouble which the question of right to the Batture, & the immense volume of evidence to be taken at New Orleans would have given to my counsel and myself, I am well satisfied to be relieved from it, altho’ I had had a strong desire that the public should have been satisfied by a trial on the merits, & the abler discussion of them by my counsel.
A love of peace and tranquility, strengthened by age and a lassitude of business, renders it extremely disquieting to me to be harrassed by vexatious lawsuits by persons who have no earthly claim on me, in cases where I have been merely acting for others. in Nov. last I was served with a subpoena in chancery at the suit of the executors of mrs Randolph (mother of mr E.R.) in which mr Norborne Nicholas, & perhaps a dozen others, are also named defendants. the object of this I cannot devine. I never had any matter of business with mrs Randolph,3 nor ever saw a farthing of hers. I once indeed transacted a single affair of hers, gratis, as a friend, at her earnest sollicitation, to relieve her from pressing distress, and under a regular power of attorney. how this can have subjected me to pass the remainder of my life in a court of Chancery, is as incomprehensible, as it is discouraging to the indulgence of our feelings in the services asked from us by our friends.I have taken measures to get a copy of the bill; and if a substantive defence is required from me, I shall ask the favor of your attention to it, as I have done in the same case of mr Hay.
The inclosed paper written for you a year or two ago, has laid by me with a view still to add something to it. but on reflection, I send it as it is. the additional matter contemplated, respected mr Henry’s4 ravenous avarice, the only passion paramount to his love of popularity. the facts I have heard on that subject are not within my own knolege, & ought not to be hazarded but on better testimony than I possess: and if they are true, you have been in a much better situation than I was to have information of them. I salute you with great & affectionate esteem and respect.
P.S. Altho the pamphlets have been some weeks at Fredsbg and expected by every stage, I am still disappointed in recieving them. I detain my letter therefore no longer, but will inclose one on it’s arrival.
PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Mr Wirt”; endorsed by TJ. Tr (MdHi: Wirt Papers). Enclosure: Document II below.
The enclosed remuneration, not found, was an order on Gibson & Jefferson for $100 (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 , 2:1276; TJ to Patrick Gibson, 12 Apr. 1812). The single affair TJ recalled that involved him in Ariana Randolph’s finances was probably his role as a trustee for the payment of her annuity by her son Edmund Randolph, the first attorney general in George Washington’s cabinet and TJ’s successor as secretary of state. This annuity was one of the debts for which the younger Randolph mortgaged his estate in 1800 (William Mann to TJ, 12 Nov. 1811, and note). Some years earlier, however, on 29 May 1792 Edmund Randolph informed TJ that “an embarrassment in one of my father’s pecuniary affairs” necessitated $700. TJ then agreed to endorse a note in this amount to enable his colleague to aid his mother, noting on that date that he had done so “merely as his security that he might receive the money on it from the bank” (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 23:614; 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 , 2:870).
1. Tr: “Mr L’s.”
2. Preceding eight words omitted in Tr.
3. Tr: “Mr Randolph.”
4. Tr: “Mr H’s.”
- Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; communications between TJ and his counsel concerning search
- Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and legal services for TJ search
- Hay, George; and suit of A. J. Randolph’s executors search
- Henry, Patrick; TJ’s recollections of search
- Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; P. Henry search
- Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston search
- Nicholas, Philip Norborne; sued by A. Randolph’s executors search
- Randolph, Ariana Jenings; annuity due to search
- Randolph, Ariana Jenings; suit by executors of search
- Randolph, Edmund; and A. J. Randolph’s executors search
- The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining the Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, against the Intrusion of Edward Livingston (Thomas Jefferson); sent to TJ’s lawyers search
- Wirt, William; and Livingston v. Jefferson search
- Wirt, William; and suit of A. Randolph’s executors search
- Wirt, William; and TJ’s recollections of P. Henry search
- Wirt, William; letters to search
- Wirt, William; TJ pays search