James Madison Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Jefferson, Thomas" AND Recipient="Madison, James" AND Period="post-Madison Presidency"
sorted by: author

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 12 March 1823

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello March 12. 23

Dear Sir

Having received from all our brethren approbations of the loan, I authorised Mr Brockenbrough to engage the work of the Rotunda and have it commenced immediately. We had only two bricklayers and two carpenters capable of executing it with solidity and correctness, these had not capital sufficient for so great an undertaking, nor would they have risked their little all but for a great advance on the estimated cost, probably 50. percent. For this reason and others very decisive Mr Brockenbrough declined that mode of engagement, and on consideration of his reasons I approved of them. He has engaged Thorn and Chamberlain1 for the brickwork, & Dinsmore & Nelson2 for the roof & carpenter’s work on terms which I think will make our money go the farthest possible, for good work; and his engagement is only for the hull compleat. That done, we can pay for it, see the state of our funds and engage a portion of the inside work so as to stop where our funds may fail, should they fail before it’s entire completion. There it may rest ever so long, be used, and not delay the opening of the institution, the work will occupy three years. All this will be more fully explained at our meeting and will I hope receive your approbation. I shall hope to see you at Monticello the day before at least. Accept the assurances of my friendly esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); draft (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Circular letter sent to the visitors of the University of Virginia. RC in Virginia Randolph’s hand, signed by Jefferson. On the verso of the draft, Jefferson listed the recipients.

1Abiah B. Thorn and Nathaniel Chamberlain signed a contract for laying brick for the Rotunda on 8 Mar. 1823 (ViU: Special Collections, Proctor’s Papers, box 3).

2James Dinsmore (ca. 1772–1830), a skilled carpenter and architect, worked for JM on the Montpelier renovations of 1808–12 (Looney et al., Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, 1:136 n.; PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (8 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 1:127 n. 2). John Neilson (d. 1827) was an Irish-born joiner who worked with Dinsmore to renovate Monticello and Montpelier, and to build the University of Virginia (K. Edward Lay, “Charlottesville’s Architectural Legacy,” Magazine of Albemarle County History 46 [1988]: 38).

Index Entries