Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 22 May 1809

To James Madison

Monticello May 22. 09.

Dear Sir

It is my duty to write to you on the subject of the Note you were so kind as to endorse for me at the bank of the US. and I do it willingly altho’ painfully. notwithstanding a fixed determination to take care that at the termination of my duties at Washington my pecuniary matters should at least be square, & my confidence that they would be so, I found, by an estimate made in December last, that there would be a deficit in them of several thousand dollars. I took immediate measures for transferring that debt to Virginia, and did it the more easily as I was enabled to pledge certain resources which I had in possession, or not very distant. however after this liquidation effected, other demands, which had not come under my view, came upon me, one after another, and required to answer them the amount of the Note you indorsed for me. the forms of the bank requiring two Indorsers, for an absentee, I asked of mr Barnes to be the second, which he very readily assented to, the cashier previously assuring me that it would have no effect on their transactions with mr Barnes on his private account, & so I assured him. but by a letter I have recieved from the old gentleman, I find that he is made uneasy by some circumstance in the execution of the note, which makes him liable in the first instance, were the bank, contrary to expectation, to make a sudden demand of the money. it would add much to my affliction to give him uneasy nights at his age, which obliges me to ask you to satisfy him by interposing yourself between him & the first liability to the bank, which I believe is done by your subscribing the words ‘credit the drawer’ instead of his doing it. he however can best say how this may be done. I might, without much delay, have relieved you from this unpleasant responsibility had I not engaged my earliest resources on my first estimate, which I then thought would discharge all demands. it is this circumstance which renders me unable to fix any time with confidence. I limit my expences here to my income here, leaving that of my Bedford estate free, which is about 2500.D. clear one year with another. but as this would take an improper course of time I am endeavoring to sell several detached parcels of land, unconnected with my possessions either here or in Bedford, & which I can spare without diminution of revenue or other inconvenience. they amount to between two & three thousand acres, & at the market prices would bring the double of these deficits. I trust that the bank, will find no interest in calling for a reimbursement before I shall have been able to avail myself of all my resources.

I had seen with much pleasure that the dispute with Pensylvania was likely to go off so smoothly; but am much mortified to see the spirit manifested by the prisoners themselves as well as by those who participated in the parade of their liberation. one circumstance in it struck my attention disagreeably, but it admitted a different explanation. I trust that1 no section of republicans will countenance the suggestions of the Federalists that there has ever been any difference at all2 in our political principles, or any sensible one in our views of the public interests.

After a most distressing drought of 5. or 6. weeks we had on the 18th instant a very fine rain, followed by calm & tolerably warm weather, and yesterday & last night a plentiful rain has fallen again. the coldness & backwardness of the spring however had not advanced plants sufficiently to enable the planters to avail themselves of them as seasons. I tender always to mrs Madison my affectionate respects & to your self the assurances of my constant & cordial attachment.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); addressed: “The President of the United States.” PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.

For the letter received from John Barnes, see TJ to Barnes, 24 May 1809. Madison and Barnes cosigned a note loaning $3,746.68 to TJ when he left Washington. An earlier or duplicate version promising to make a payment in sixty days to “James Madison and John Barnes, or order (without offset)” was left blank and canceled (MS in MHi; entirely in TJ’s hand; dated 1809; see also Barnes to Madison, 21 Mar. 1809, Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:70–1). The original note was replaced by another to the bank of the United States on 24 May 1809 for sixty days (MS in ViU: TJP-ER; in TJ’s hand; signed by Barnes at foot of text with the notation: “paid by JB—23d July”; endorsed by Madison and Barnes on verso and canceled).

The dispute with pensylvania came in the case of Olmstead v. the Executrices of the Late David Rittenhouse, a longstanding dispute that originated in 1778 as a prize case. The final action was Madison’s 6 May 1809 pardon of eight Pennsylvania militiamen headed by General Michael Bright, who had been convicted of federal charges after obeying the order of Governor Simon Snyder to protect the daughters of David Rittenhouse against enforcement of a writ by a United States marshal (Washington National Intelligencer, 12 May 1809; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:102–4, 173–4; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884 [1884], 1:540–1).

Patrick Byrne, a printer and bookseller in Philadelphia, sent TJ an advertisement for his edition of A Report of the Whole Trial of Gen. Michael Bright and Others; before Washington & Peters, in the Circuit Court, of the United States, in and for the district of Pennsylvania, in the Third Circuit (Philadelphia, 1809), consisting of trial proceedings taken down by Thomas Lloyd and corrected by the judges, available for $1.50 (Byrne to TJ, 12 June 1809 [printed circular in DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections]; signed by Byrne and addressed by him to “Thomas Jefferson Monticello. Va”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 13 July 1809 and so recorded in SJL).

1TJ here canceled “the republic.”

2Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States; loan through J. Barnes and J. Madison search
  • Barnes, John; cosigns loan to TJ with J. Madison search
  • Bright, Michael search
  • Byrne, Patrick; letters from accounted for search
  • Byrne, Patrick; Report of the Whole Trial of Gen. Michael Bright and Others search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; J. Madison endorses note for search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; sells land search
  • Lloyd, Thomas search
  • Madison, James; and pardon in Olmstead case search
  • Madison, James; endorses note for TJ search
  • Madison, James; letters to search
  • Olmstead v. the Executrices of the late David Rittenhouse search
  • Pennsylvania; Olmstead v. the Executrices of the late David Rittenhouse search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); annual income of search
  • Report of the Whole Trial of Gen. Michael Bright and Others (Byrne) search
  • Rittenhouse, David; legal case involving executrices of search
  • Snyder, Simon; governor of Pa. search
  • weather; drought search