Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Mease, 27 February 1809

Philadelphia Feby 27h. 1809.

Dear Sir

Mr Ronaldson called on me a few days since to Shew me some Specimins of wool one of which was from your ram, imported from Spain by the late Robert Morris, & supposed by you to be of the Merino breed. I had no hesitation in pronouncing my opinion, that the ram from which the Specimen shewn me, came, was not of that breed, and I gave Mr. R: a small lock of one of my Merino Ewes to send you, in order that you might See the difference between yours and mine.—The lock aluded to was taken from a very fine Ewe lambed in the Spring of 1806, and descended from a fine wooled Merino ram (black,) imported by myself in the winter of 1802-3, direct from Cadiz, and an American Ewe, selected among others by an English wool Stapler out of a large flock, at my request.—I bred from the black rams in 1804-5, & 6.—In 1807, & 8, I had a white ram from Col: Humphreys Stock, and I have now thirty nine Ewes and 15 rams of various degrees of blood, from the half to full prooffs.—The third cross so nearly approaches the staple of the fullblood Merino, that I would not give 20 cents a pound difference between them, (supposing that the latter brings $1.50, which it readily does).—

I have the pleasure to find too, that the produce of the Spanish Ram and the Ewes of our own Country, and their descendants, are of larger size, and better shaped than the Merino ram,—that they are very hardy, fatten very easily, and do not Sicken when in that Condition,—they moreover do not loose their wool, if owing to the pressure of other business on the farm, the Shearing be omitted for one or two weeks after the usual time.—With a view of increasing the Size of My flock, I have Crossed 16 Ewes of the New Leicester, or Bakewell breed, with the Spanish ram last Season. Those Ewes, I bought at N Brunswick N: Jersey, and stand me in $112.—Their shape is admirable.—

The reason of my having in the first instance, a black ram, was this.—I gave an order to Patrick Yznardi, for a ram and Ewe, of course meant white.—But as the black Sheep are cheaper than white, he Very improperly sent me four.—Two rams, and two Ewes all black.—Although Much dissappointed I took them and was pleased to find, that many of the lambs from them were white, and that the improvement of the wool was evident.—

The ram from which your Stock is derived, evidently appears to be of the long woolled breed of Spain called Churros, and is only fit for blankets & worsted stuffs.—It will not full well,—and must not be crossed with the Merino, the properties of whose fleece are essentially different. It is nevertheless a valuable breed, and should be carefully attended to, for we want, probably blankets, & worsted more than fine cloth.—

Until last year I had no demand for my sheep. Thanks to the excellent Measures of your administration, a spirit for home Manufactures was roused, and the sheep are likely to become a valuable Stock. I have sent 4 rams and two Ewes to S: Carolina, one Ewe to Mr Dupont of Wilmington, and one ram is engaged for North Carolina.—I was in hopes to have been Clothed in Cloth from my own wool this winter, and for that purpose sent my fleeces to the Manufactory of Kirk and Rodgers near Wilmington, Delaware.—The finer wool they did not touch, and that of the Second quality was so badly manufactured, that I am obliged to sell it.—Next Season I intend to Send all the finer sort to Byefield, Mass:—

Wishing you all health and happiness, I remain Dear Sir yours Sincerely

James Mease

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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