Thomas Jefferson Papers

Josephus B. Stuart’s Account of a Visit to Monticello, 24–25 December 1816

Josephus B. Stuart’s Account of a Visit to Monticello

Tuesday 24th December 1816.

After breakfast proceeded to Mr Jeffersons—spent the day with him. Mrs Randolph & daughter1 Helen (Granddaughter) The situation is delightfull—the prospect more extensive & diversified than any I ever saw—on the one hand you can see to Harpers ferry 110 miles—on the other the Pyramid (so called) 40 miles,

The day fine—the great man communicative, & the following is a summary of his observations on general subjects.—

This2 country at present is governed by an aristocracy in which the great mass of the people have no voice.

In many of the states & also in the general goverment the constitutions should be so amended as that all offices should emenate directly from the people. Public officers at home & abroad should be well supported.—{He is in favor of Pickens amendment to the constitution}. This Country is most likely to have its Constitution undermined by a great national debt: which already is double to what he ever thought it would be.—He wishes the Constitution so amended that every age3 (say 20 years) shall pay off their own debts, then ways & means would be provided at the same time—No State Banks, which by the by the General Goverment have the power to put down.

but have 2 national banks—one to receive specie & give drafts to facilitate exchange at par,4 The other a more general Brokers establishment to advance money on bills or notes, deducting the Interest, & adding a reasonable per cent, by way of premium.

This of course would exclude every thing but specie from circulation, but in time of War to meet exigencies, the goverment could issue ten millions per ann— of Treasury notes, payable ten per cent annually & in this way carry on a war to any extent. England he thinks has expended the fee simple of her whole Island, & that no palliative will save her from a revolution, which he wishes for most ardently.

He rejoices5 at the result of the Battle of Waterloo, as it saved France from a long reign of military despotism which Napoleon would have established if he had been victorious, now France suffers but her present sufferings are the prelude to her final emancipation—not that she will be a republic—but an elective monarchy which is all she is capable of6—& this will probably be the Duke of Orleans.—Germany also is nearly ripe for a revolution—

Napoleon he considers as a hard character.—The Emperor Alexander as one of the best of men.

he related circumstances relative to this goverment to prove this.—

He is a great friend to Genl Wilkinson, & knows no one thing he ever did amiss.—Rather cast a censure on Madison, but spoke highly of Monroe Whose knowledge of human nature he thinks unequalled

Has a correct opinion of Tompkins—spoke well of Clinton—thinks old John Adams honest but had bad advisers—J Quincy a learned man, & reformed monarchist. would act for the best interests of his country.—

Mr J. considers us as navy mad—we want in peace only the nest egg of a navy.—He fears it will yet dictate to the nation.7 Mr J. is opposed to a standing Army & military schools, only so far as may be necessary to teach the Rudiments of the science to a few who on an emergency should constitute our officers.—He thinks the late war has got up too much of a war spirit in this country, which may lead us into difficulties; we have nothing to do with wars but such as are offensive—8

Restrnt of Commerce to proper limits—let us be an agricultural, & so far as may be proper or necessary for our own purposes a manufactoring people—Extend good faith to all nations for never should have any other than a war of defence, which would seldom occur.—

We have made too much noise about our exploits, & turned molehills into mountains—the mania has pervaded the nation, & the worst consequences may follow—Let us have one or two more wars—continue our present strain of eulogy on ourselves, & bestow the same high marks of distinction on the officers, & it will be but a little time, ’till we must bid farewell to our Republic, & accept in return, a military despotism, or at best, an elective monarchy.—Mr J says the Treasury departnt—since Gallatin left it has been wretchedly managed.—That Marshall is destitute of principal.

Mr J. Reads without glasses.9

as to commerce we want no more than to take away our produce & bring back what we really stand in need of from other countries.10—We ought to manufacture11 all our own clothes.—& not be too proud to wear them.—He had on a blue quaker coat, blue cloth vest, olive cotton cordyroy breeches with horn buttons on the whole—all homemade.—Has his cloth manufactured at Wilmington N.C—He has the most despicable opinion of the Eastn Federalists—& particularly of Otis.—He thinks however that the great mass of the Federalists12 are real friends13 to their country—His House is a & not yet compleated. I was disappointed in it.—His principal curiosities are of the Indian Kind.—He appears principally devoted to his estates, & spends 3 months of each year at Bedford where he has a plantation.

He is now 73.14—not much grey—his teeth apparently good—a great eater.—drinks French wines only.—

enjoys good health.

He commenced here in 1768—His father lived here before him.—Tobacco has gone by in this part of the country wheat is the principal crop which brings from 5 to 20 Bushels the acre, lands north about 20 the acre on an average.—He wishes to see the draw back act repealed.—I presented him with some Gypsum from New York, & a grapeshot from the field of Waterloo.—

He complains that he has outlived his generation—that go where he will he knows no one:—except now & then an old grey head tottering on the verge of the grave.—He is not as well informed of the improvements in the northern states, as to roads, Bridges—steam Boats—stages, & particularly manufactories as I had anticipated.—His Greatest solicitude is to see England revolutionized before his Death, We had a conversation on the subject of Louisiana, & the importance of that purchase:—He appears anxious to have me spend some time with him, & miss Randolph really insists upon it: but I shall depart tomorrow. T. M. Randolphs family reside constantly at M.

T.J.R. has lately married miss Nicholas & resides between his father & Grandfather.

The weather is as mild as the first of October at Albany Mr J. is extremely awkward & ungracefull in his manner—His house servants are all mulattoes.

Quere? His Venus is admirable.

Wednesday 25th Decr—wrote N. S. I. Lovett, & Frances Stuart & M. [. . .].

Charlottsville 2 m w of—mr J. is the county town of Albemarle County—a mere village.—

Mr Jefferson considers this country as labouring under a great degree of Religious fanatacism. That freedom of conscience is less tolerated here than on the Continent of Europe, for tho we have no spanish inquisition, yet we have what is worse, an Inquisition of public opinion! That our Bible societies & foreign Missionary-Societies are not only impolitick, but unjust; for they carry misery & wretchedness into every country where they are introduced, as the proselytes are rejected from all society as outcasts.—what said he, would we say if Mahometans, with their alcoran, or even Roman Catholicks with their Vaticcan Bibles were to inundate our Country?—& shall we arrogate to ourselves that we are right & all the world beside are wrong?—this surely does not look like allowing every man to worship God in his own way.—Further this fanatacism of the day, will have an injurious effect on this country as it will tend to extend the empire of Bigotry & superstition, which are hostile to a Republic, which is based15 on liberality of sentiment, & a general diffusion of knowledge. In the evening took my departure, drove 22 miles one Horse died.—Very warm weather.—Bad roads.—

MS (MiU-C: Stuart Papers); in Stuart’s hand; extracted from diaries 4–5; one word illegible.

Josephus Bradner Stuart (1787–1828), physician, businessman, and attorney, was a native of Blandford, Massachusetts. He received an M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1810 and, after moving to New York, served as a medical officer in the state militia, 1811–12, and as a first lieutenant and regimental paymaster in the United States Army, 1813–15. Stuart was chancellor of the American consulate in London, 1815–16. Returning thereafter to the state of New York, he worked as a land speculator, farmer, miller, storekeeper, lawyer, and from 1818–21 as the proprietor of a steamboat on Lake Erie (MiU-C: Stuart Papers; Joel Munsell, The Annals of Albany [1850–59], 3:239; Stuart, An Inaugural Essay, containing Experiments and Observations in defence of the Doctrine of Cutaneous Absorption [Albany, 1810]; Hugh Hastings and Henry Harmon Noble, eds., Military Minutes of the Council of Appointment of the State of New York, 1783–1821 [1901–02], 2:1246, 1398; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:934; ASP, Commerce and Navigation, 2:51–2; Ogdensburgh, N.Y., St. Lawrence Gazette, 14 Apr. 1818; New York National Advocate, 10 May 1819; New-York Spectator, 9 Nov. 1821; gravestone inscription in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, N.Y.).

the pyramid was Willis’s Mountain in Buckingham County. North Carolina congressman Israel Pickens proposed an amendment to the constitution in January 1813 that would require every state to be divided into districts with roughly the same population for the purpose of electing members of the United States House of Representatives and the electoral college (Mr. Pickens’ Motion to amend the Constitution of the U. States, on the Subject of the Election of Representatives and Electors [Washington, 1813]).

j quincy: John Quincy Adams. The most recent draw back act was “An Act to allow drawback of duties on spirits distilled and sugar refined within the United States, and for other purposes” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 3:338–40 [30 Apr. 1816]).

1Word interlined in place of “miss.”

2An unmatched opening double quotation mark at the beginning of this word is editorially omitted.

3Word interlined in place of “century.”

4Stuart here wrote “(See next book) Ended at Monticello in Albemarle County Virginia Decr 24th 1816.” At the start of his next diary notebook, he added the words “Commenced at Monticello (the seat of Mr Thomas Jefferson) Decr 24th 1816—J. B, Stuart” and a brief note unrelated to his visit.

5Manuscript: “rejoics.”

6Manuscript: “off.”

7Stuart here interlined “{See Decr 27th}” to indicate the location of the remainder of the diary entry for 24 Dec. 1816. The continuation, which is headed “See 24th Instant” and “Army,” is editorially inserted here.

8Thus in manuscript, with “defensive” probably intended.

9The continuation of the 24 Dec. entry inserted at 27 Dec. 1816 ends here.

10Preceding three words interlined.

11Manuscript: “manufacre.”

12Manuscript: “Federalilsts.”

13Manuscript: “feinds.”

14Reworked from “74.”

15Manuscript: “basised.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; TJ on search
  • Adams, John Quincy; TJ on search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; TJ on search
  • Army, U.S.; TJ on search
  • banks; TJ on search
  • Bible; mentioned search
  • Bible; societies for distribution of search
  • boats; steamboats search
  • buttons search
  • carriages; stagecoaches search
  • Catholicism; criticized search
  • Charlottesville, Va.; description of search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; TJ on search
  • clothing; buttons search
  • clothing; coats search
  • clothing; corduroy search
  • clothing; homespun search
  • clothing; knee breeches search
  • clothing; vests search
  • coats; Quaker-style search
  • Congress, U.S.; elections to search
  • Constitution, U.S.; proposed amendments to search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); as hostess at Monticello search
  • debt, public; TJ on search
  • education; military instruction search
  • eyeglasses search
  • Federalist party; TJ on search
  • France; TJ on search
  • France; wines from search
  • Gallatin, Albert; as secretary of the treasury search
  • Germany; TJ on search
  • Great Britain; political reform in search
  • Great Britain; TJ on financial policies of search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); in N.Y. search
  • horses; death of search
  • household articles; eyeglasses search
  • House of Representatives, U.S.; and electoral districts search
  • Indians, American; artifacts of, at Monticello search
  • Islam search
  • Jefferson, Peter (TJ’s father); mentioned search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; appearance search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; by J. B. Stuart search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; conversation search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; eyesight search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Alexander I search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; aristocracy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; banks search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; commerce search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; death of old friends search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; domestic manufacturing search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; drawback system search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Federalist party search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; France search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; government finance search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Great Britain search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Adams search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Madison search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Marshall search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Monroe search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Wilkinson search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Napoleon search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; public debt search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; religion search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; standing armies search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; U.S. Navy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; war search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; war with Great Britain search
  • Koran search
  • Louisiana Territory; TJ on search
  • Lovett, N. S. I. search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); TJ on search
  • manufacturing; TJ on search
  • Marshall, John; TJ on search
  • Monroe, James; TJ on search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); described search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); slaves at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Stuart, Josephus B. search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; TJ on search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; TJ on search
  • Orléans, Louis Philippe, duc d’ search
  • Otis, Samuel Allyne; TJ on search
  • Pickens, Israel; constitutional amendment proposed by search
  • politics; elections search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Randolph, Jane Hollins Nicholas (Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s wife; Wilson Cary Nicholas’s daughter); and T. J. Randolph search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); as hostess at Monticello search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); and J. H. N. Randolph search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); family of search
  • religion; Catholicism search
  • religion; Islam search
  • religion; societies for Bible distribution search
  • religion; TJ on search
  • roads; in U.S. search
  • roads; poor condition of search
  • schools and colleges; military search
  • slaves; at Monticello search
  • steamboats; for U.S. river navigation search
  • Stuart, Frances search
  • Stuart, Josephus Bradner; Account of a Visit to Monticello search
  • Stuart, Josephus Bradner; identified search
  • Stuart, Josephus Bradner; visits Monticello search
  • textiles; homespun search
  • textiles; plain cloth search
  • tobacco; grown in Va. search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; TJ on search
  • Treasury Department, U.S.; TJ on search
  • Treasury Department, U.S.; treasury notes search
  • United States; drawback system of search
  • United States; national debt search
  • United States; roads in search
  • Virginia; roads in search
  • War of1812; TJ on search
  • Waterloo, Battle of (1815) search
  • weather; heat search
  • wheat; as crop search
  • Wilkinson, James; TJ on search
  • Willis’s Mountain; mentioned search
  • wine; French search