Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1 June 1780

To William Short

Richmond June 1. 1780.

Th: J. To Mr. Short

I send you by Col. Digges (the first opportunity which has occurred) Mr. Wythe’s and my arguments in Bolling vs Bolling bound up together. The former are valuable in themselves, the latter to none but myself; but being so to myself, I am induced to recommend the book to your particular care. It will enable you better to foresee your adversary’s objections, than to answer them. Give me leave to recommend strongly to you a methodical and strict arrangement of your matter. The best arguments are lost without this. I will ask the favor of a communication of the better matter you shall put together on this subject that I may see in what manner I should have handled it myself. Adieu.

MS not found; text from City Book Auction Catalogue, 119 E. 57th st., New York City, Sale No. 523, Lot A–4, 28 Apr. 1951, where the date is erroneously given as 1789, though the text otherwise appears dependable except for the fact that TJ must have written “Bolling v. Bolling” instead of the form presented.

The importance that TJ attached to the bound volume Sent by Col. Digges is understandable: no other legal brief of his except the Batture Case seems to have involved such a thorough and meticulous preparation. The volume itself is in CSmH, consists of 122 leaves of which 56 are in TJ’s most formal legal chirography, comparable to that employed by him in the Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments (see Vol. 2: 504–5), with the remainder being in the copperplate hand of Anderson Bryant. The arguments took place in chancery proceedings in 1770–1771 with Wythe arguing for the plaintiff, Archibald Bolling, and TJ arguing for the defendant, Robert Bolling; the full text will be presented among TJ’s legal documents in Second Series. In his Case Book under date of 2 Dec. 1770 TJ made the following entry, “Archbld. Bolling v. Robt. Bolling (Buckingham). Case in Canc. Referrd to arbitration. Desired by R. Bolling to state it with arguments at length in writing. Charge £5.–1771 Sep. 13. Recd. £9–17.”

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