Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Nicholas Lewis, 9 February 1791

To Nicholas Lewis

Philadelphia Feb. 9. 1791.

Dear Sir

I have been so closely engaged ever since the meeting of Congress as never to have had a moment to write to you. I think it might be well to advertize my lands at Elkhill for sale, and therefore inclose you the form of an advertisement, in which you will observe I have omitted the name of the proprietor, which as long as I am in public I would wish to keep out of view in every thing of a private nature. If you think any thing in the advertisement had better be omitted, or any thing else inserted be so good as to make it what you think it should be.

Understanding that tobacco is still low in Virginia, and the price here, for such as mine being from 26/ to 30/ Virginia money I have concluded to try an experiment of bringing part of it here, and if it suits the market the rest may come also. Not being able to wait till the order could go through you, I have written to Mr. Hylton to send me immediately 20. hhds. of it, as they are now in want here, and the river now opening they will soon have their supply. I am in hopes it may come in time to order on the residue, if the experiment succeeds. However I would not have the shipment of the rest to Mr. Maury delayed on that account, as perhaps I may find the bringing it here not to answer. The proceeds of these 20 hhds. shall be immediately remitted to Mr. Lyle or Hanson. Wheat is here at a French crown: tho’ in truth there is little brought to market. I have no doubt it will fall as soon as the farmers come in.

Congress will rise on the 3d. of March. They have passed an excise bill, which, considering the present circumstances of the union, is not without objection, and a bill for establishing a ban[k] to which it is objected that they have transcended their powers. There are certainly persons in all the departments who are for driving too fast. Government being founded on opinion, the opinion of the public, even when it is wrong, ought to be respected to a certain degree. The prudence of the President is an anchor of safety to us.—I recieved Mrs. Lewis’s letter of Jan. 22. and return her many thanks for it, as well as for her kind attention to my daughter, who expresses great sensibility for her goodness. I am with great esteem Dear Sir Your affectionate friend & servt,

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I must pray you to get the contract with Ronald completely executed, and particularly as to the mortgage of his Bever-dam lands. I observe part of my Cumberland lands advertised for the taxes of 1789. which I mention lest the advertisement should have escaped you.

PrC (DLC). Text of the enclosed advertisement is at foot of second page of PrC and reads: “for sale. The lands called Elk-hill on James river and the Byrd [creek] adjacent to Elk-island in Goochland, containing 669. acres and consisting of [two] parcels, the one of 307. acres of low grounds and highlands both of the first quality, the other of 362. acres of good grain land, mostly well timbered. The two parcels are 250 yards apart, a public road passing thro’ that interv[al] and are cultivated as one plantation. On the former, and in a very handsome posi[tion] is a commodious dwelling house built by the late Reuben Skelton for his own residence, having 4. rooms below and 2. above, with good outhouses erected since his time. The price is 40/ sterling the acre, payable by installments in the years 1793. 4. 5. 6. with interest from the delivery of the land. Real security will be required. Capt. Henry Mullins, who lives adjoining to the lands will shew them to any person wishing to purchase, and the subscriber in Albemarle has full authority to conclude the sale—[Nichs. Lewis].” The advertisement, dated 3 May 1791, ran in Davis’ Virginia Gazette from 25 May 1791 to 13 July 1791. Lewis allowed the text to stand exactly as written by TJ, only adding his name, here given in square brackets (supplied) from the printed text.

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