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Richard Flower to Thomas Jefferson, 28 March 1817

From Richard Flower

Mar. 28–1817 Marden near Hertford

Dear Sir

The Familiarity of this address you will readily excuse as you are aware that without personal acquaintce one can esteem in the highest degree from a knowledge of Character Talent & virtues. and altho distance has prevented any personal Interview with you I assure you of my high esteem for you, from an intimate knowledge of your Character as president your public Speeches to Congress and many epistles of a more private Nature wh have fallen into my hands but what has made you really dear to me is the hospitality and kindness you have shewn my amiable & much esteem’d Son for wh you will accept my most sincere thanks—

In my last Letter receiv’d from him he informs me he has purchased an Estate of about 750 Acres of Land in the western part of Virginia and it is natural that I should feel deeply interested in his Welfare not only on Account of my affection for him. but on Account of the consequences of his well being wh will draw in his Train numbers of farmers as settlers also Labourers of the most industrious Class, who are unhappily become of little Value to the Government under wh they live and are become sensible of their Situation in this respect, and ready to a considerable extent to rely on the report my son gives of America—

It is also stated in his last Letter that he intended sailing for England in the middle of April wh I hope has been prevented by Letters dispatchd to him by various persons informing him of Mr Birkbeck & a party of Friends coming out to him immediately and praying him to stay till they arrived—If it should happen that my Son should have saild from America before he has seen Mr Birkbeck you will confer a great obligation on me if you will inform Mr Birkbeck of the situation of his purchase and if it could in any way be of any advantage to Mr B— as a temporary Residence for himself or any of their party. it will give both him & myself great pleasure—Mr Birkbeck has brought out with him a most valuable Cargo of Intellect information industry & Virtue1—and are a good specimen of the Circle of an extensive acquaintance, who are tremblingly alive to the Calamities wh await their Country and looking towards America as an assylum from the troubles occasion’d by an overwhelming Taxation & severe oppression its constant Attendant—It is far from my Intention to be drawn into any thing like an Essay of our political Situation but to thank you most sincerely for your Favours shewn to my Son and assure you nothing would give me greater pleasure than having an opportunity of making some grateful Return—

I remain Yours respectfully

Richard Flower

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Monticello America favourd by Mr Birkbeck”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 May 1817.

Richard Flower (ca. 1761–1829), brewer, farmer, and reformer, was a native of England. He began his career in brewing and was drawn into politics and pamphleteering, authoring Observations on Beer and Brewers, in which the Inequality, Injustice, and Impolicy, of the Malt and Beer Tax, are Demonstrated (Cambridge, Eng., 1802). After the British government failed to address the concerns thus expressed, Flower shifted his business interests to sheep breeding and agriculture. When his Marden estate suffered from the impact of taxation and low crop prices, he published Abolition of Tithe Recommended, in an Address to the Agriculturists of Great Britain (Harlow, Eng., 1809). In 1818 he sold the estate and followed his eldest son, George Flower, to the United States. Flower settled initially in Lexington, Kentucky. The following year he moved to Albion, Illinois, where the younger Flower had established an agricultural community composed primarily of English immigrants. Flower authored two more pamphlets, Letters from Lexington and the Illinois (London, 1819) and Letters from the Illinois, 1820. 1821. (London, 1822), in which he defended the Albion settlement against attacks by the political writer and critic William Cobbett. He was a leader of the successful movement to keep slavery out of Illinois, built a tavern and founded a library in Albion, and led weekly religious services there. After one trip back to England in 1824, during which he helped to negotiate Robert Owen’s purchase of land for his utopian colony at New Harmony, Indiana, Flower returned to his adopted home and died in Albion (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 ; Vandalia Illinois Intelligencer, 12 [misdated 13] Sept. 1829).

1Manuscript: “Vitue.”

Index Entries

  • Birkbeck, Morris; and settlement in U.S. search
  • Flower, George; and settlement in U.S. search
  • Flower, Richard; and G. Flower’s settlement in U.S. search
  • Flower, Richard; identified search
  • Flower, Richard; letter from search