Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Gabriel Jones, 29 April 1779

To Gabriel Jones

Monticello, April 29th, 1779.

Dear Sir

By Mrs. Harvey I enclose to you the principal and interest of the money you were so kind as to lend me some years ago. It furnishes me also with an occasion of acknowledging, with this, the many other obligations under which you have laid me, of which I shall always be proud to shew a due sense, whenever opportunity shall offer.

I am, Dear Sir, with much esteem, Your friend and servt.,

Th: Jefferson

MS not located. Printed from the Virginia Gazette, 1 June 1803, where it appears, together with a statement by Jones, as part of a serial attack by James T. Callender on the President.

The Callender-Jones charge, first made in the Recorder for 8 Dec. 1802, was that TJ, having borrowed £50 in 1773, dishonorably attempted to pay back the debt and interest in depreciated paper money. Two relevant entries will be found in TJ’s Account Book under 29 Sep. 1773 and 28 Apr. 1779. Jones refused this mode of payment, and TJ later repaid the loan in hard money while minister to France. What Jones and Callender regarded as a very nefarious act on TJ’s part was perfectly legal, and anyway Jones eventually got his money back; but personal vilification was Callender’s specialty, and all was grist to his mill. Over the signature “Timoleon” an answer to Callender’s charge was promptly published in the Richmond Examiner and reprinted in the National Intelligencer, 1 July 1803: it points out that TJ repaid the debt in hard money as soon as hard money became available after Jones’ refusal of paper money. Another answer, signed “Veritas” and believed to have been written by Philip Grymes, was printed and circulated as an address “To Gabriel Jones,” 20 July 1803 (2-page leaflet without imprint, DLC: Broadsides Collection). “Veritas” declared that Jones had suppressed a material fact, namely, that Mrs. Harvie had given Jones, along with TJ’s letter, a verbal message, to the effect that TJ would make payment in hard money as soon as possible if Jones declined accepting paper money. The remainder of Grymes’ address is a violent attack on Jones’ ethics as lawyer and citizen. TJ Editorial Files contain evidence that, so late as 1949, the Callender-Jones charge, in fancifully adumbrated form, was still being repeated as family legend.

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