Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Watson, [before 28 October 1781]

From David Watson

[Monticello, before 28 Oct. 1781.] Watson would be “much obleadged” if TJ would consider his state, for he is “full of want” and has not “Any Spair Clothing to Change my Self.” He [had been given?] “sume Stockings … publicklly” which caused him “very much Concern: as I have a Spirit above thos things although Never So poor: has Come of Good people and good principle is Sorey to be Accomodated by Neagros.”

RC (DLC); MS badly faded and partly illegible; the draft of TJ’s letter to Washington of 28 Oct. 1781 is written on verso. The date of this letter may be presumed to be between early Apr. and 28 Oct. and to have been written when TJ was not at Monticello. For under date of 3 Apr. 1781, TJ’s Account Book shows that he “sent David Watson a British deserter, house joiner by trade, to work at Monticello @ 3000 lb. tobo. a year or it’s worth in paper.”

TJ’s Account Book for 1781 shows that he had paid Watson a total of ⅌1395 between 9 June and 25 Sep. Possibly one reason for Watson’s being “full of want” was that he was also, much of the time, full of whiskey. The Account Book for Jan. 1782 gives an impressive record of Watson’s consumption: 12 Jan.: “Watson has had 3 galls. whiskey. 3 galls. do. ½ galln do.” (this probably represents a cumulative record, since it is the first in the Account Book dealing with Watson’s whiskey consumption); 14 Jan.: “Watson 1 qt. do.”; 16 Jan.: “1 qt. do”; 30 Jan.: “Charge Watson & Orr 3 galls. whiskey”; and 1 Feb.: “charge do. 4. gall. do.” See also TJ to John Key, 2 Mch. 1784.

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