Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Alexander Donald, 1 January 1788

From Alexander Donald

Richmond, 1 Jan. 1788. Has received a letter from Nicholas Lewis asking him to assist Derieux, who wished to sell some bills of exchange; he gladly assisted him after seeing the letter TJ had written Derieux, but he believes “it would have been as well, had you not mentioned to him the sum which his Aunt would probably leave him at her Death, for it appears to me that he reckons upon it, as much almost as if [it] was actually now in his possession, For in place of laying out the money received for his bills in a piece of good land and some Negroes &c. he has out of the first end of it, purchased a Phaeton and Horses.” This is a “bad symptom of his Œconomy,” and if his aunt lives a few years and refuses further assistance, he will be ruined. Had he known what Derieux was going to do he would have advised him. “Colo. Lewis has sent a specimen of Indian Corn and seeds, which will be forwarded by this opportunity” hopes they arrive safely; some hams will be sent in the spring. Does not think England wants war or that France is in a condition to begin war; if he is right “they will each concede a little” “But should there be a war in Europe, it gives me pleasure to find that the People … will take no part with either, but will avail themselves of the great advantages which must result from a state of perfect neutrality.” This he believes will be their conduct for some time. Sends a letter he received from Warner Lewis. The box containing copies of TJ’s “Book” for various persons has not yet arrived.

RC (DLC); 2 p.; endorsed. Enclosure (DLC): Warner Lewis to Alexander Donald, 22 Dec. 1787, which reads in part: “… I am exceedingly concerned at the probability of a war in Europe, and of such an one as will in all likelihood be general. If it should be general, the parts you have allotted to the different powers, I think, will be found to be perfectly just. I have no doubt myself that the Emperor of Germany will take that part which France espouses; and I hope America will have wisdom enough to take no part at all.—The more I contemplate the new constitution, as it is called, and the more I consider the situation of my country, the more I am persuaded of the necessity of making immediate trial of it. With this idea, that I may have an opportunity of giving a vote for it, I have offered my services to the county I live in. Whether I shall be elected or not, is a matter of some doubt‥‥ The mortification of rejection will by no means be a sore one to me. I thank my friend Jefferson for his recollection of me amidst the business with which he is surrounded; and I shall receive the present of his book with that pleasure, which every testimony of his remembrance and regard will always impress upon me.”

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