Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to John Adlum, 13 January 1816

To John Adlum

Monticello Jan. 13. 16.

Dear Sir

While I lived in Washington you were so kind as to send me 2. bottles of wine made by yourself, the one from currans, the other from a native grape, called with you a fox-grape, discovered by mr Penn’s gardiner. the wine of this was as good as the best Burgundy and resembling it. in 1810. you added the great favor of sending me many cuttings. these were committed to the stage Mar. 13. on the 27th of that month I set out on a journey. the cuttings arrived at our post office a day or two after, & were detained there till my return. they were recieved Apr. 19. and immediately planted, but having been 6. weeks in a dry situation not a single one lived. disheartened by this failure and not having any person skilled in the culture, I never troubled you again on the subject. but I have now an opportunity of renewing the trial under a person brought up to the culture of the vine & making wine from his nativity. am I too unreasonable in asking once more a few cuttings of the same vine? I am so convinced that our first success will be from a native grape, that I would try no other. a few cuttings, as short as you think will do, put into a light box, & mixed well with wet moss, if addressed to me by the stage, to the care of mr William F. Gray in Fredericksbg, will be forwarded by him to Milton without delay, where I shall be on the watch for them. I must find my apology in this repeated trouble in your own patriotic dispositions to promote an useful culture and I pray you to accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “Majr John Adlum at Wilton farm near Havre de grace Maryland”; address canceled and redirected in an unidentified hand to “near Geo. Town D C—”; franked; postmarked Milton, 16 Jan. 1816; endorsed by Adlum, with his additional notation: “To request Mr Jefferson to send me some hicory nuts.” PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; endorsed by TJ.

The native grape grown by Adlum was the Alexander grape, discovered by Thomas penn’s gardener, James Alexander (TJ to Adlum, 7 Oct. 1809; Adlum to TJ, 15 Feb. 1810; Peter J. Hatch, The Fruit and Fruit Trees of Monticello [1998], 152–4). Jean David was a person TJ hoped would aid him in renewed efforts at viticulture (TJ to James Monroe, 16 Jan. 1816).

Index Entries

  • Adlum, John; and grape cuttings search
  • Adlum, John; and wine search
  • Adlum, John; letters to search
  • Alexander, James search
  • burgundy (wine) search
  • currants; wine from search
  • David, Jean; as possible Monticello vintner search
  • food; hickory nuts search
  • grapes; Alexander (Cape of Good Hope) search
  • grapes; fox search
  • grapes; vine cuttings search
  • Gray, William Fairfax; and transmission of packages to and from TJ search
  • hickory nuts; requested from TJ search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); viticulture at search
  • nuts; hickory search
  • Penn, Thomas search
  • wine; burgundy search
  • wine; currant search
  • wine; sent to TJ search