Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Duncan Rose, 13 December 1781

To Duncan Rose

Richmond Dec. 13. 1781

Dear Sir

I have the pleasure of your favors of the 10th. and 13th now before me. Should the report of the Committee of Trade on your claim come on while I am here I will propose the order that the Commercial agent pay your balance on a supposition that the account does in it’s nature belong to that department. This being done it will be easy for you and he so to accomodate your matters as that any purchases you may make may be placed against his debt to you.

The warrants for £10,000 and 11680£ which you mention to be expressed for tobacco due on public account I suppose to be in part of your salary. I am informed since I came to town that the assembly either have passed or will certainly pass an act for paying all the public debts now outstanding, with their depreciation. When this will be done is not so easy to foresee, but it gives a hope of justice some day or other. With respect to the warrant for ⅌11250 it would be just that the public should pay on this the depreciation which incurred between the 18th. of Apr. and 23d. of July, that is between it’s date and paiment had it never been paid I suppose it would come in on the footing of the two warrants first abovementioned: but being paid, it stands in an immense croud of private losses by depreciation incurred while the treasury was without money, into which I apprehend the assembly will never enter on account of the multiplicity and intricacy of the accounts of that kind which in that case would be brought in to be overhauled. This loss therefore, however unjustly, will I fear fall on you. The depreciation from July 23. to Oct. 15., that is from your receipt of the money at the Treasury till paid to Mr. Cox for Genl. Morgan, cannot with justice be made the loss of any person but yourself unless there was any default in Mr. Smith. The paiment made on the 15th. of October to Mr. Cox (whom I understand to have been duly authorised to receive the money either for Genl. Morgan or Mr. Beall) should in honour, as it does in law, discount so much of the 15M tobacco as it was worth at that time, and of course that you are liable either in law or honour for the balance only.

Make no apologies to me for giving me opportunities of serving you. The obligation is on my part and so will ever be deemed, as I am with very great sincerity Dr Sir Your friend & servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViHi); addressed to Rose at Richmond; endorsed.

Rose’s favors of the 10th. and 13th have not been found. On 29 Nov. 1781 Rose presented a petition to the House of Delegates requesting settlement of his claim against the commonwealth for money and tobacco advanced “during the exhausted state of the treasury,” and for pay due him as a member of the board of trade. His petition was referred to the committee of trade, which made its report on 15 Dec. and presented a resolution allowing Rose’s claim in the amount of 145,749 pounds of tobacco, together with another resolution, “That so much of the aforesaid tobacco as respects the trading department, ought to be paid to the petitioner by the agent of that department, as soon as the circumstances thereof will admit, with interest until paid.” The House agreed to the committee’s resolutions on 15 Dec. and the Senate did so on 18 Dec. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1781, 1828 edn., p. 20, 41, 45). An act for paying all the public debts now outstanding, with their depreciation: A bill “to exchange and fund outstanding auditors’ warrants” was defeated on 28 Dec. and a bill “for the more effectual settlement of the accounts of public agents, and for other purposes” was considered, but postponed to the next session (same, p. 61, 68–9). The Act that TJ was led to anticipate was, no doubt, the Act establishing a scale of depreciation as “a just standard whereby to settle and adjust debts and contracts” entered into between 1 Jan. 1777 and 1 Jan. 1782 (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 471–4).

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