Thomas Jefferson Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Jefferson, Thomas" AND Period="Madison Presidency" AND Project="Jefferson Papers" AND Starting date=4 March 1809 AND Ending date=3 March 1810
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Thomas Jefferson to Jones & Howell, 10 August 1809

To Jones & Howell

Monticello Aug. 10. 09

Messrs Jones & Howell

It is with real mortification that, instead of a remittance for the last supply of rod & iron, now due, I am obliged to send you this letter. yet my feelings on the failure will not permit me to be merely silent. I have now been for 13. or 14. years a customer of your house & of it’s predecessors, and have never failed beyond a few days over the term of remittance, except on one occasion, I believe, where it had escaped attention. my income is mainly from the produce or the rents of tobacco & wheat farms. knowing that this came in but once a year, and owning a mill rented at 1200.D. a year, I reserved, when I leased it, quarterly paiments of the rent with the single view of meeting therewith your quarterly supplies of rod. I had not pressed my tenant for two year’s past, not then wanting the money; but did so when I desired your last supply. he made me fair promises, which I did not expect he would fail in, till within these few days. he still renews his promises, but I cannot be certain that they are better than those he has broken. we have no banks here to relieve disappointments, & little money circulation. all is barter. my nails have never commanded money. even the merchants, if cash were demanded, would prefer importing them, because they would then make paiment by remittances of produce. under these circumstances I am obliged to throw myself on your indulgence, with the assurance it shall never be wilfully abused. I am endeavoring to get rid of my present mill-tenant, in order to place that under arrangements which may ensure my paiments to you. I have no other resource but agriculture, & that can supply deficiencies but once a year. you must be so good as to indemnify yourselves by charging interest whenever I fail, for this may not be the only instance under present circumstances.  formerly while I had this business under my own direction, it was very profitable, inasmuch as it employed boys, not otherwise useful. during my absence it has not been so, but has been continued merely to preserve the custom. I think to try it for a year or two, in my own hands, & if I find it is become unprofitable from causes which cannot be remedied I shall abandon it. in the mean time I see the possibility that I may be obliged to do what I have not done heretofore ask a new supply when a preceding one is unpaid for. on this however your convenience must give the law, & shorten, if necessary, the experiment I had proposed to try.  I have trespassed on you with these details, that you may perfectly understand my situation, & ascribe a failure, not to a want of faith, but of those accomodations which do not exist here. in every case be assured of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ.

Jones & Howell, a partnership of iron merchants at 18 South Wharves, Philadelphia, was established about 1803. The firm allowed TJ to purchase iron on credit until the War of 1812 led TJ to end his nailmaking enterprise (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 , 2:964n; Robinson, Philadelphia Directory for 1809 description begins James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1809, 1809 description ends ; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:38).

TJ presumably received the last supply of rod & iron after his payment of $273 to Jones & Howell on 10 Mar. 1809 (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 , 2:1242). SJL records missing letters from TJ to Jones & Howell, 10 Mar. and 6 Apr. 1809, and from Jones & Howell to TJ, 14 Mar. and 2 May 1809, received from Philadelphia on 23 Mar. and 7 May 1809.

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; debt to Jones & Howell search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; terminates mill lease search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); account with TJ search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); identified search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); letters from accounted for search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); letters to search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); letters to accounted for search
  • naileries; at Monticello search
  • naileries; nailrod and iron stock search
  • rent; due from Shoemakers search
  • Shoemaker, Jonathan; rent due from search
  • tobacco; TJ’s income from search