Thomas Jefferson Papers

Statement of the Dispute by the Directors of the Rivanna Company, [ca. 15 January 1811], document 6 in a group of documents on Jefferson’s Lawsuit against the Rivanna Company, 9 February 1817

VI. Statement of the Dispute by the Directors of the Rivanna Company

[ca. 15 Jan. 1811]


The legislature passed an act1. in 1794. authorising those who would subscribe money for that purpose, to open the navigation of the Rivanna river, from the highest point capable of being made navigable to the town of Milton. under this act subscriptions to a large amount were obtained, and commissioners chosen to ascertain the highest point of navigation, which they did. this law was amended by an act2 passed in 1805. and subsequently by an act passed Dec. 30. 1806.3. ‘Incorporating a company to open & extend the navigation of the Rivanna river from Milton to Moore’s ford opposite the town of Charlottesville.’ this company, from not being completely organised, never began it’s operations till 1810. but now propose to comply with all the provisions of the act. across this river Thomas Jefferson has erected a mill dam, he owning the lands on both sides of the river, both above and below the dam; in erecting which the sd Thomas complied with every legal requisite, two Inquests being taken on it, one in 1795. and one in 1805. both Inquests however contemplating and taking into view the future navigation of the river.4 It will be necessary now to erect a lock at this dam to enable boats to pass, whereas if the dam was away no lock would be necessary, as before it’s erection, several boats loaded with flour passed down in safety; and during the last winter or spring, a boat loaded with tobacco passed down to the dam, and was there obliged to unload. upon consideration then of the above facts, and of the inquests that have been taken, and of the principles of law both natural and civil, that bear upon the subject, the question to be decided is Whether the sd Thomas is bound to erect and maintain the lock at his dam, which will be necessary to enable vessels to pass?

Tr (ViU: TJP); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; torn at upper left corner, with apparent loss of an endorsement or notation. Enclosed in preceding document.

For the acts of the legislature, see following document. For the two inquests, see exhibits nos. 2 and 3 described in annotation to first numbered document above.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

1. 1. see Session acts of 1794.

22. see acts of 1805.

3. 3. acts of 1806.

44. see Inquests.

Index Entries

  • An Act concerning the clearing of the North Fork of James River (1794) search
  • An Act Incorporating a Company to open and improve the Navigation of the Rivanna river, from Milton to Moore’s ford, opposite the town of Charlottesville, in the county of Albemarle (1806) search
  • An Act to amend an Act, entitled, “An Act, concerning the Clearing of the North Fork of James River” (1805) search
  • boats; and river navigation search
  • dams; on Rivanna River search
  • flour; shipment of search
  • Jefferson v. Rivanna Company; case documents in search
  • locks (canal) search
  • Milton, Va.; and Rivanna River navigation search
  • Rivanna Company; Statement of the Dispute by the Directors of search
  • Rivanna River; inquest on TJ’s mill (1795) search
  • Rivanna River; inquest on TJ’s mill (1805) search
  • Shadwell mills; dam at search
  • tobacco; shipment of search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search