Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Alexander Donald, 15 February 1792

From Alexander Donald

London 15th. February 1792

Dear Sir

I did myself the honor of writing you by the January New York Packet.

The Principal intention of this letter is to hand you Mr. Lackington’s Bill for Books, which are now on board the Pigou, I do not yet know what the Freight of the Box comes to, but it will be added to the other charges before this letter is closed, I beg you will not give yourself any trouble about paying the amount, but make it perfectly convenient for yourself. It may either be paid to Mr. James Brown of Richmond or remitted to Donald & Burton here, as you think proper.

By the last advices from America, I find the prices of your Stocks have had a great and rapid Rise. I presume as you can borrow money in Europe @ 4 ½ per Cent, you will immediately turn your attention to paying off your Six per Cent Stock as fast as you can consistent with good Faith to the Publick. People here are not a little astonished at the Conduct of the Fœderal Judges who met in Richmond in Virginia last Novemr. As the Courts are open in most, if not all of the other states, they cannot see any good reason for their not being opened in Virginia also. The British Creditors expect relief from your Executive, in which I dare say they will not be disapointed.—I am with great respect Dear Sir Your Faithful & obt. Sert.,


RC (DLC); a note in another hand at foot of text reads: “We have not taken a Bill Lading but forward you the master Receipt to save you 2/6. We have not Insured it. D & B”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 May 1792 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Lackington’s bill for books to be shipped on the Pigou, dated London 31 Dec. 1791, was first made out to Messrs. Donald & Co., then crossed out and reassigned to “Mr. Jefferson—Bot of J. Lackington”; at foot of list, clearing and shipping charges and freight amounting to 6/ were added to the total cost of the books, £8–17–0, making a grand total of £9–3–0, which Donald apparently paid on 2 Jan. 1792, as noted at bottom of sheet. The list contained the catalogue numbers, a brief title (which TJ later amplified) and the cost of each (MS in DLC). For TJ’s full list and notes, see TJ to Alexander Donald, 23 Nov. 1791.

Donald’s letters by the New York packet were dated 3 and 5 Jan. 1792. The British debt test case of Jones v. Walker had been presented in the U.S. Circuit Court before federal judges Cyrus Griffin, and John Blair and Thomas Johnson. This important issue is discussed in Charles F. Hobson, “The Recovery of British Debts in the Federal Circuit Court of Virginia, 1790 to 1797,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , xcii (1984), 187–8, but see also William Madison to James Madison, 3 Dec. 1791, Rutland, Madison, xiv, 136; and James Monroe to TJ, 1 May 1792.

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