Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to John Hollins, 5 February 1810

To John Hollins

Monticello Feb. 5. 1810

Dear Sir

Your habits of kindness to me present you always first, when, wanting any thing from Baltimore, I look around for some one who will procure it for me. having made my last bow of Adieu to politicks, and emptied my head compleatly of all it’s concerns, I am become a mere farmer devoted to it from interest & inclination. we find plaister as beneficial to our lands as perhaps to any whatever, & there is not at present one bushel to be got at Richmond, our only market for it. my necessities call for half a dozen ton, in order not to disappoint my expectations of the produce of the year, reasonable or visionary. will you be so kind as to have that quantity shipped for me by some vessel bound to Richmond, addressing it to Gibson & Jefferson, who will pay the freight. the cost I will remit myself as soon as you shall be so good as to make it known to me. as there is great differences in the quality, you can probably get some one to chuse it who is a good judge. the advancing season obliges me to ask your kind attention to send it by the first vessel.

Your friend mr Carr is much harrassed by his rheumatism and sometimes confined. mr Nicholas had recovered so as to ride out about 2. or 3. weeks ago, since which I have not heard from him. all else at Warren & Carrsbrook well. on horseback myself every day from breakfast to dinner, I find my strength sensibly increased. my health was always good even in the foggy atmosphere of politics. accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Hollins”; endorsed by TJ.

John Hollins (1760–1827), merchant, immigrated to Baltimore from England following the Revolutionary War and founded the firm of John Hollins & Company in 1792. He served as president of the Maryland Insurance Company from 1802 until his death. TJ had known Hollins since at least 1800. He purchased coffee and wine from him in June 1808, and Hollins sold him six tons of gypsum in lump form in both 1810 and 1811 (J. Thomas Scharf, The Chronicles of Baltimore [1874], 209, 260; Cornelius William Stafford, The Baltimore Directory for 1802 [Baltimore, 1802], 30; R. J. Matchett, Matchett’s Baltimore Directory for 1827 [Baltimore, 1827], 22, 133; TJ to James Madison, 13 June 1800 [DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection]; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1227, 1254, 1264; gravestone inscription in Westminster Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Baltimore).

TJ became convinced of the value of plaister (gypsum) as a fertilizer in 1803 after reading about its virtues in John Alexander Binns, A Treatise on Practical Farming (Frederick, Md., 1803; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 721). During his retirement TJ purchased large amounts annually for his landholdings in Albemarle and Bedford counties (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends ; Betts, Farm Book description begins Edwin M. Betts, ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, 1953 description ends , 195–200). Hetty Smith Stevenson Carr, the wife of TJ’s nephew Peter carr, was the aunt of Hollins’s wife, Jane Smith Hollins, and Wilson Cary nicholas was married to Jane Hollins’s sister Margaret Smith Nicholas.

Index Entries

  • agriculture; use of gypsum in search
  • A Treatise on Practical Farming (Binns) search
  • Baltimore, Md.; TJ orders gypsum from search
  • Binns, John Alexander; A Treatise on Practical Farming search
  • Carr, Hetty Smith Stevenson (Peter Carr’s wife); family of search
  • Carr, Peter (TJ’s nephew); illness of search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and gypsum acquired by TJ search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); TJ orders search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Hollins, Jane Smith (John Hollins’s wife); family of search
  • Hollins, John; and gypsum search
  • Hollins, John; identified search
  • Hollins, John; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; improved by retirement search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); gypsum for search
  • Nicholas, Margaret Smith (Wilson Cary Nicholas’s wife) search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); illness of search
  • rheumatism; P. Carr’s search
  • Richmond, Va.; and gypsum search