Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 17 September 1814

From Joseph C. Cabell

Warminster. 17th Sepr 1814.

Dear Sir,

The dangers of our country will be my apology for troubling you with this letter. I wish to draw your attention to the important subject of our financial difficulties, & particularly those which will present themselves to the Genl Assembly at its next session: and to sollicit the favor of you to put me in possession of any hints, or plans which you may think adapted to the crisis. I went to Richmond when the Governor issued his proclamation. When I called on him, he informed me that the enemy was expected every day; that a large militia army was assembling which would in a few days be competent to repel any assault that would probably be made: but that this army must be disbanded for want of support, unless money could be procured: that there was no money in the Treasury & none at Washington: that our only resource for the emergency was a Loan from the Banks, to the amt of 50, or 100,000$ in anticipation of the Revenue; but that the Banks had declined lending, on the ground that they were already in advance to the state to the amt of $160,000—& that it was utterly out of their power to lend1 a further sum, without imminent danger of inability to pay their notes: that he had exhorted them to hazard every consequence, sooner than suffer the country to be laid open to the incursions of the British army, but had found them deaf to his remonstrances: that2 it was yet possible that those institutions might be prevailed on to lend the state, provided the application should be seconded by members of the Genl Assembly: and that he wished me to undertake to renew the application on his behalf, supported by such arguments as it might be in my power to urge. I waited on some of the officers of the two Banks, in compliance with the Governor’s Request. Among the arguments3 used, I stated that tho’ a stoppage of paymt of specie, was in itself a great evil, yet I considered it less than that the enemy should march to Richmond & blow up our capitol, & I had no hesitation in believing that the Genl Assembly would not be unmindful of the favor of cooperation by the Banks at so critical a period. After some deliberation, the two Banks agreed to advance the sum of $140,000, for the use of the state—which added to their previous advances, would make an aggregate of $300,000. The day after this loan, the Farmer’s Bank stopped payment in specie: & the next day the Virginia Bank also stopped: but under a promise to reopen their issue of specie, as soon as it could be got down from Lynchburg. Upon enquiry I learned they expected $20,000—which wd last but a few days: owing to the Great drain of specie to supply change for the use of the army. The Virginia Bank perhaps will go on—but I think it will not. The Farmer’s Bank certainly will not. The alledged cause, of this suspension, is the late suspension in the northern Towns.4 The want of change was sensibly felt in consequence of this measure. It was believed by some that individuals had hoarded and were hoarding specie. It was feared that the supplies for the army, so much wanted, would be affected by fears of the solidity of the paper: and a meeting of the merchants was talked of, to support the character of the notes.—Almost our whole revenue has been, or will have been anticipated by the5 10th Octr. So many of the people are called out or have left home, that the sheriffs will probably in many instances find it difficult to collect the taxes. The Genl Govt owed Virginia last winter, upwards of $400,000, & passed a law to provide for paying the debt—but from some cause or other the acct has not been settled & paid in conformity to the act—and now they have no money. An army of 10, or 12,000 men is now guarding Richmond, not to mention the force at Petersburg & in the northern neck. For the present, we are compelled to support this force, the expence of which is & will be vast indeed; & one of the first duties of the Assembly will be to adopt measures for this purpose. We have a right to expect that Congress will take from our shoulders this heavy burthen, but that Govt is without money, & we must defend ourselves, at every cost & hazard, trusting in ultimate remuneration. I came up on 13th inst to prepare my affairs for a long absence on the Assembly—I wd wish [to] carry some6 useful ideas with me, when I join the Senate—& I take the liberty once [more to] ask the kindness of you to furnish me with such suggestions as you may deem useful for the occasion. I will use them under such restrictions as you may think proper to impose. I should be happy to call on you; but I7 shall be so engaged in settling my necessary affairs, I am not certain it will be in my power to pass thro’ Albemarle. By the 5th Octr I count on leaving home. I wish to obtain Col. nicholas’s consent that he may be put in nomination as our next Governor.

I am, dr Sir, with the most sincere respect & esteem, yr friend & Humb: Servt

Joseph C. Cabell

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); mutilated at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson esq. Monticello Albemarle”; stamped; postmarked Warminster, 17 Sept. 1814; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Sept. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

By a proclamation issued 1 Sept. 1814, Governor James Barbour called the Virginia General Assembly back into session beginning on the second Monday in October 1814 (Richmond Enquirer, 3 Sept. 1814).

1Cabell here canceled “any.”

2Cabell here canceled “he saw no.”

3Cabell here canceled “I urged.”

4Cabell here canceled “Such was the state.”

5Cabell here canceled “time.”

6Preceding two words interlined above seal tear in an unidentified hand.

7Cabell here canceled “must try to make at least some.”

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; and militia search
  • Army, U.S.; funding for search
  • banks; distressed situation of search
  • banks; in Va. search
  • banks; J. C. Cabell on search
  • Barbour, James; as governor of Va. search
  • Barbour, James; issues proclamation search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and TJ’s ideas on finance search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; on banks search
  • Congress, U.S.; and debt to state of Va. search
  • Farmer’s Bank of Virginia; and loan to Va. search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; specie sent from search
  • militia; organization of search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); gubernatorial nomination of search
  • Petersburg, Va.; and War of1812 search
  • political economy; and wartime finance search
  • Richmond, Va.; Bank of Virginia search
  • Richmond, Va.; defense of search
  • taxes; collection of search
  • United States; debt to state of Va. search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; governor search
  • Virginia; Senate search
  • Virginia; treasury of search
  • Virginia; wartime financing in search
  • Virginia; wartime taxation in search
  • War of1812; and economy search
  • War of1812; defense of Richmond search