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Wilson Cary Nicholas to Thomas Jefferson, 25 May 1809

From Wilson Cary Nicholas

Warren May 25. 1809

My Dear Sir

I have had a severe attack of the rheumatism, which has prevented my going to Washington, I am now better and I hope in four or five days to be able to set out if there is a necessity for my going. Will you do me the favour to give me your opinion as to the probability of the duration of the present session? It does not seem to me that any legislative measure wou’d now be necessary or proper as to G. B. as to France I do not know what can be done. Non intercourse or war appear to be the only measures in our power, and I presume some time will be given before war wou’d be resorted to. I sincerely congratulate you upon the prospect of an adjustment with G. B. Your enemmies seem to sicken at it, as the merit of it must be ascribed to the measures taken by you. If you have a spare copy of the Presidents speech you wou’d oblige me very much if you wou’d let me have it. It will not reach this for a week by the mail.

I am with the greatest respect & esteem your friend & hum. Serv.

W. C. Nicholas

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 25 May 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761–1820), a native of Williamsburg, attended the College of William and Mary and briefly served with a Virginia volunteer unit prior to relocating to Albemarle County at the close of the Revolutionary War. He represented his adopted county in the Virginia House of Delegates for several terms during the 1780s and from 1794 to 1799. In the latter year Nicholas was elected to a seat in the United States Senate, from which he resigned in 1804 to become collector of the port of Norfolk. He served in the United States House of Representatives from March 1807 until November 1809 and as governor of Virginia from 1814 to 1816. Nicholas incurred mounting debt through land speculation and an extensive complex consisting of flour mills, warehouses, a tavern, and a distillery that he built in the town of Warren on the bank of the James River near his home estate of Mount Warren. In 1818, as president of the Richmond branch of the Second Bank of the United States, Nicholas convinced TJ, his longtime friend and political ally, to act as his security for notes totaling $20,000. The collapse of the Richmond bank and Nicholas’s subsequent default on these debts caused TJ irreparable financial harm. Having lost all of his property, Nicholas moved to Tufton, the home of his daughter Jane and her husband, TJ’s grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. Nicholas was buried at Monticello (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; V. Dennis Golladay, “The Nicholas Family and Albemarle County Political Leadership, 1782–1790,” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940– description ends 35/36 [1977/78]: 123–56; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:471, 473 [12, 20 Nov. 1804]; 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 , 2:1344, 1350, 1355, 1356).

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States, Second search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); foreign policy views search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); identified search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); illness of search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters from search
  • Randolph, Jane Hollins Nicholas (Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s wife; Wilson Cary Nicholas’s daughter) search
  • Tufton (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); W. C. Nicholas moves to search
  • Warren, Va.; industrial complex at search