Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Penn (for Archibald Robertson) to Thomas Jefferson, 27 May 1815

From James Penn (for Archibald Robertson)

Lynchburg, May 27th 1815


In the absence of Mr Robertson I have opended your Letter and made the enquiry requested. Fortunately I found a Gentleman in Town, who was going on to the north, with whom I have exchanged $1400 Treasury notes for bank bills, these you can have by Sending down Mr Goodman to morrow. In the exchange I was compeled to take Several notes which are not very current here, though very good, of this circumstance you will apprise Mr Goodman, or Probably he might not receive them.

very respectfully Yr Mo Obt srvt

J Penn

RC (ViU: TJP); endorsed by TJ as a letter from Archibald Robertson “by J. Penn” received 27 May 1815 and so recorded (with no mention of Penn) in SJL.

James Penn (1794–1870), clerk of the Lynchburg merchant Archibald Robertson, later became a member of that city’s mercantile firm of Garland, Walton, & Penn. Financial difficulties prompted him to move in 1825 to Alabama. Penn settled in Huntsville, Madison County, which he represented in the state’s House of Representatives, 1828–32, with service as Speaker, 1830–32. He was appointed cashier of the Huntsville branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama in 1835. Penn moved by 1850 to Memphis, Tennessee, where he served as cashier of the Planters’ Bank Branch until 1856. The 1860 census valued his personal property at $10,000, including three slaves. Penn was a prominent Masonic leader in Virginia and other southern states (John H. Cowles, The Supreme Council, 33°: Mother Council of the World Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. [1931], vii, 195–6; Lynchburg Virginian, 8 Feb. 1830; Va. Reports description begins Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1798–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with Va. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends , 32 [5 Leigh]: 65–6; Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography [1921], 873, 926; Daily Louisville Public Advertiser, 2 Dec. 1830; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 9 Dec. 1831; Richmond Enquirer, 28 Feb. 1835, 16 May 1837; Larry Schweikart, “Antebellum Southern Bankers: Origins and Mobility,” Business and Economic History, 2d ser., 14 [1985]: 94; DNA: RG 29, CS, Tenn., Shelby Co., 1860; Little Rock Daily Arkansas Gazette, 23 July 1870).

Index Entries

  • banks; currency issued by search
  • currency; exchange of search
  • Goodman, Jeremiah Augustus; as Poplar Forest overseer search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; exchanges Treasury notes search
  • Penn, James (1794–1870); clerk for A. Robertson search
  • Penn, James (1794–1870); identified search
  • Penn, James (1794–1870); letters from search
  • Robertson, Archibald; exchanges currency for TJ search
  • Robertson, Archibald; letters from search
  • Treasury Department, U.S.; treasury notes search