Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, 11 April 1796

To Thomas Mann Randolph

Monticello Apr. 11. 96.

Th:J. to TMR.

I did not write to you by the last post because I expected you would be on the road; but as I find this will reach you in time I will ask the favor of you to bring me the certificate from Byrd’s warehouse relative to the 2. hhds. of tobacco TWC. mentioned in your’s of the 6th. inst. It will be extremely material to be brought on Cobbs by surprize, because they consider Colo. Bell’s unsuccessful enquiries after these 2. hhds. at Shockoe’s as proofs against us.—As I conjecture from your letter that you will come up by Watkins’s, and of course by Elisha Lake’s on the 3. notched road, if you can get Lake to tempt some waggoner to bring on my rope by offering an extraordinary bounty, I will be obliged to you. The other articles left there by Nat may wait till he can find an opportunity of forwarding them. Colo. Bell could never get a waggoner to undertake bringing them.—Reeves has declined taking my tobacco on the terms of the paper inclosed you, on account of the reference to the 60. days price, tho’ he had not objected to that when first mentioned.

We have had a remarkeable drought. The ground is now got so hard, that we this day lay aside our ploughs as unable to break up the earth. It has also been very cold for these two days. The mercury was this morning at 35°. We are in dreadful confusion with the demolition of our walls, which is more tedious than I expected. The walls are so solid that 7. men get down but between 3. and 4000. bricks aday. They would make new ones as fast. The tumbling of brickbats keeps us in constant danger. We have as yet had but one accident of a man knocked down. We are all well Jefferson particularly so, and all anxious to see you, and our dear Martha and Anne. Adieu affectionately.

RC (DLC); endorsed by Randolph as received 15 Apr. 1796.

Randolph’s letter of the 6th inst., recorded in SJL as received from Varina 10 Apr. 1796, has not been found.

The suit brought by Thomas Cobbs over two hogsheads of tobacco, lost after being carried to Richmond by TJ’s slave Phill in 1786, came before the Albemarle County Court on 5 May 1795. Initially the court appointed Samuel Shelton and John Hudson to settle the suit with “their award to be the Judgment of the Court” but the order was set aside two days later. During the August term of court the case was brought before a jury that found in favor of Cobbs and awarded him almost £40 in damages, plus court costs. On the motion of TJ’s attorney, the court set aside the award and agreed to a new trial. The court granted TJ’s request for a continuance during the November 1795 term and also awarded him a commission to take a deposition “of Owen and Mosby Inspectors at Shockoe warehouse.” At the second trial, held in May 1796, the jury once again found against TJ but assessed damages of only £22.16.6. On 6 June TJ settled with Robert Garland, Cobbs’s attorney, paying the judgment plus court costs of £6.4.10. TJ also paid William Wirt five dollars for serving as his attorney in the suit (Albemarle County Court Order Book, 1793–95, Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Charlottesville, p. 361, 375, 435, 523, 526; same, 1795–98, p. 64; TJ to Nicholas Lewis, 11 Oct. 1791; TJ to John Wayles Eppes, 3 Sep. 1795; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , ii, 941–2).

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