Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Dinsmore, 18 May 1803

To James Dinsmore

Washington May 18. 1803.

Dear Sir

Yours of the 1st. & 9th. have been recieved, and the last has much relieved me as to the last box or boxes of Composition ornament. it was impossible to think of taking mr Hudson’s cherry, for which he asked five times what has ever been given within my knolege. I hope mr Meriwether’s will suffice for the parlour, and we must take time for the rest. I am told there is great difference in point of beauty & value between the wild cherry which grows in the low grounds & in high lands. we must attend to this.

I do not recollect that I had given you drawings for the fireplace of the parlour. I believe I had not. I therefore have prepared some which I now inclose. Accept my best wishes

Th: Jefferson

RC (NjP: Andre De Coppet Collection); at foot of text: “Mr. Dinsmore.”

A letter from Dinsmore of 1 May, recorded in SJL as received 8 May, and one of 9 May, recorded in SJL as received 11 May, have not been found.

For TJ’s emphatic rejection of Charles hudson’s cherry, which was intended for the parlor floor, see TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, 5 May. There is no record of a purchase from William D. Meriwether, though Meriwether did produce lumber at his mills. In November 1802, TJ asked Thomas Mann Randolph to acquire some wild cherry stocks from the nearby Birdwood estate (RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004- , 9 vols. description ends , 1:74; TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, 25 Nov. 1802). Monticello’s parlor floor, notable for its parquet design, consisted of 10-inch squares of cherry framed by two-inch-wide slats of beech. TJ acquired some beech from John B. Magruder in March, and in August he paid Hancock Allen for sawing some pine and beech wood. As late as September 1804, the floor remained unfinished (McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello description begins Jack McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder, New York, 1988 description ends , 315–16; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1105; TJ to John B. Magruder, 26 Mch.; Memorandum of Tasks for James Dinsmore, and Memorandum of Tasks for John Hemings, both 24 Sep. 1804).

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