Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Jameson, 16 April 1781

To David Jameson

Apr. 16. 1781.


The day is so very bad that I hardly expect a council, and there being nothing that I know of very pressing, and Mrs. Jefferson in a situation in which I would not wish to leave her, I shall not attend to-day.

Should there be a board this case requires immediate attention. The court of Albemarle on the resignation of John Coles County Lieutenant and Nicholas Lewis Colo. have passed by Reuben Lindsay who was Lt. Colo. and a man of as much worth as any in the county and of a temper fit for conciliating the minds of the people to the many harsh calls now to be made on them, and have recommended (as report sais) John Marks to be County Lieutt. who was formerly a very junior captain and retired, not possessing an inch of property in the county or other means of obtaining influence over the people, and of a temper so ungovernable that instead of reconciling he will by his manner of executing revolt the minds of the people against the calls of government, and produce mutinies and difficulties where others would go thro’ smoothly. As our power of redressing depends on our taking the start I would recommend if there be a board the inclosed resolution. I do not know who are the two eldest captains. Reuben Lindsay I know is the Lt. Colo. and Charles Lilburne Lewis the Major.

I am with great esteem your friend & servt,

Th: Jefferson

The board should there be one can form their resolution without my being present. If the commissions can be sent me, I can forward them to-day.

John Coles County Lieutenant and Nicholas Lewis Colo. of Albemarle having resigned their commissions, the board advise that Reuben Lindsay the present Lt. Colo. be appointed County Lieutenant and Charles Lilburne Lewis the present Major be appointed Colo. of the militia of the said county.

RC (DLC: Stauffer-Morgan set of autographs of Signers of the Declaration of Independence); addressed and endorsed. The resolution was not “inclosed” but written on the verso of the address leaf. No copy of this letter is to be found in the Executive Letter Book, for obvious reasons.

Jameson, whom TJ addressed as Jamieson, was senior member of the Council. This letter explains what was evidently TJ’s first absence from a meeting of the board since Aug. 1780: the cause is apparent in the allusion to Mrs. Jefferson and in an entry in TJ’s Account Book under date of 15 Apr.: “our daughter Lucy Elizabeth died about 10. o’clock A.M. this day.” Lucy Elizabeth was four and a half months of age. The Council resolution, framed as TJ drafted it, was adopted 16 Apr. and was the only business transacted (or at least recorded) that day (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 335). On this subject, see Gilmer to TJ, 13 Apr. 1781. TJ allowed his hostility to Marks to tempt him into an impulsive action that proved to be too hasty. The commissions for Lindsay and Lewis were made out on 16 Apr. and were dispatched to the former on the same day. But, as TJ soon learned, Lindsay had been the Albemarle court’s first choice and indeed it was he who had recommended Marks; see Lindsay to TJ, 25 Apr. 1781.

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