Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, 17 January 1809

Washington Jan. 17. 09.

Dear Sir

Immediately on the reciept of your letter I communicated to mr Nicholas so much of it as related to Varina. he & mr Patterson dined with me two days ago. mr Patterson, it seems, never meant to purchase more land than a mere seat, and small farm for it’s support. with this mr Nicholas has supplied him near Warren, & he begins to build in the spring. in the choice of a situation, his first object was health. I much approve your plan of selling that place rather than labourers, for without these lands are useless; and I do not suppose you would like to settle a son at Varina. it is wonderful to me that some of the Millionaires of Richmd. Picket, Wickham &c do not buy so valuable a farm. but the purchase is so great that none but the rich can buy, and this makes the competitors so few as to place the seller in their power. I have three detached tracts of about 2, 3, & 400. each in Albemarle which, as being smaller might perhaps find a purchaser. these are Pouncey’s 400. and two tracts on the waters of Buck island. the first is really of value. if you can dispose of these, perhaps they might ease you of your most pressing calls and give time for the sale of Varina. and you are entirely welcome to them. as to the price judge for yourself & for the interest of the family, and I shall be very happy if you can dispose of them.   I find myself in the same situation. nobody was ever more determined than I was to leave this place clear of debt. but trusting to estimates made by my head and confident that I had the thing quite within my power, I omitted till too late the taking an accurate view of my calls for money. the consequence is that I shall fall short 8. or 10,000. D. I shall be able to get it accomodated for some time, and my Bedford crops of the last & current year will pay about 5000. D. of it, & an offer for my Natural bridge tract 1600. to 2000. D. within a twelvemonth. to make up the balance I have desired Peyton to try if he can sell Henderson’s land, all Southward of the public road & town of Milton, reserving all on the river which is the whole that is interesting to me. I have also directed Griffin to try to sell a detached tract I have in Bedford near Lynchburg, of about 400. as (I believe) rich, very hilly, & extraordinarily timbered, which the demands of Lynchburg for building renders of consequence. it is possible Henderson’s may be sold in lots to persons in Milton. I would rather avoid selling that in Bedford if I can, altho’ it is too small for one of the children. my idea is that your lands & mine adjacent to one another in Albemarle & Bedford will ensure a competent provision to all the children, & if by selling our detached parcels we can clear ourselves of debt it will enable us to enjoy an easy situation in tranquility. it will be necessary for me to make my possessions in Albemarle support the house & themselves. Craven’s farm, when his lease is out, if well managed, ought to go far towards this. but I know nothing of manegment. I have ever been unwilling to trouble you with my affairs, knowing that your own required your whole time. yet when Craven’s farm returns on my hands, it’s yield will be so important that I shall be obliged to ask some aid from you in it’s direction. a good overseer will be the first desideratum. it will not be long before Jefferson can aid us both. he is well, and is become so incessantly studious that Dr. Logan, who is here, advises me to caution him on the subject. he had got into the habit of reading till 1. 2. or 3. aclock in the night, & then not sleeping. mr Peale finds it necessary to carry him to bed when he goes himself. this explains the last paragraph of the inclosed letter. mr & mrs Peale are become extremely attached to him. my tender love to my dear Martha & the young ones, and assurances of sincere affection to yourself

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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