Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Harrison, 22 September 1782

To Benjamin Harrison

Monticello Sep. 22. 1782.


I do myself the honour of inclosing you a letter received from mr Thomas Smith as agent for mr Nathan. I have no idea that the laws, as they stand at present, can give him an action against me for assumpsits of public debts, made in council & so expressed, with their unanimous advice, & this in the presence of mr Nathan, who knew the debts to be public, who applied to me as a public officer for paiment, and who has never before pretended to consider it but as a public affair and were it possible that the present laws should leave me exposed to shipwreck where there never was anything in the nature of a private assumpsit, I suppose it not possible they should be permitted to remain so. the purpose of the present trouble I give your Excellency is to ask whether, should any suit be brought against me, I may take the liberty of remitting the defence wholly to the public whose concern alone it is? I had had some thoughts of abstracting myself a while from home by a journey to Philadelphia or somewhere else Northwardly: but I suppose it would not be safe for me to leave a state by whose laws I must certainly be protected and trust myself in another where that protection would be more doubtful. I have the honour to be with very great esteem & respect Your Excellency’s most obedt. & most humble servt

RC (ViU); addressed: “His Excellency Governor Harrison Richmond.” The enclosed letter from Thomas Smith to TJ has not been found.

On the Nathan matter, see TJ to Board of Trade, 18 Mch. 1780, and TJ to Randolph, 18 July 1783, and references there.

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