Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 24 April 1796

To James Madison

Apr. 24. 96.

Yours of the 11th. is recieved, with the letter from Bringhurst. On consideration of all circumstances, I find that the advantages of taking iron from the manufacturer will be more than countervailed by disadvantages. I give up Sharpless therefore. Lownes I must abandon. Above a month ago I wrote to him for an additional ton of rod, merely to furnish a decent occasion to call for nearly that quantity still unfurnished tho paid for so long ago as October last. I find it is not furnished because it was paid for before hand. I therefore conclude to open dealings with Mr. Howel, to whom I have written the inclosed letter, which I have left open for your perusal, merely that understanding the ground of my application, you may have the goodness to call on him, and just make us as it were acquainted in the offset, which will start us with that degree of good understanding that might otherwise require a course of time and dealing to establish. This single office performed, I will give you no further trouble with the business.

With respect to Mazzei’s money, I think it safest on the whole to remit it to the Van Staphorsts & Hubbard of Amsterdam, with whom Mazzei is on the best and most confidential terms. I will therefore ask the favor of you to invest it in bills on Amsterdam; not in London bills, as in a former remittance of bills on London payable to the V.S. & H. the drawee availed himself of Mr. Pitt’s law forbidding paiment. I will write to V.S. & H. and also to Mazzei by this or the next post, to inform them of what we do, so that you need only put the bills under cover to V.S. & H. and refer them to the explanations they will recieve from me.—Nothing new in politics. We are withering under an unparraleled drought. Adieu affectionately.

P.S. I have written the letters to V.S. & H. and P.M. which I will pray you to have forwarded, for which purpose I inclose them.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); unsigned; at foot of text: “Mr. Madison.” PrC (DLC); lacks postscript. Enclosures: (1) TJ to Samuel Howell, Jr., 24 Apr. 1796 (recorded in SJL, but not found). (2) TJ to Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 24 Apr. 1796. (3) TJ to Philip Mazzei, 24 Apr. 1796.

TJ’s letter to Caleb Lownes above a month ago was probably that recorded in SJL at 27 Mch. 1796, which has not been found. For TJ’s payment to Lownes for three tons of nailrod in October 1795, see Statement of Nailery Profits at 30 Sep. 1797.

Samuel Howell, Jr. & Company became TJ’s major supplier for the nailery between May and Sep. 1796 with TJ purchasing six tons of nailrod and one-half ton of hoop iron from the company. Along with enclosure No. 1 listed above, SJL records that TJ wrote letters to Samuel Howell, Jr., son of the eminent Philadelphia merchant of the same name, on 22 May, 19 June, 13 Nov. 1796, and 26 Mch. 1797, but none have been found. Letters from Howell to TJ of 9 May, 15 June, 25 Nov. 1796, which according to SJL were received on 21 May, 2 July, and 4 Dec., respectively, are also missing. According to SJL TJ exchanged correspondence with George Howell of Philadelphia during this same period. Letters from this Howell to TJ of 16 May, 5, 28 July, 7 and 26 Sep., which according to SJL were received 3 June, 15 July, 6 Aug., 16 Sep., and 8 Oct., 1796, respectively, have not been found. Neither have letters from TJ to Howell of 17 July and 28 Aug. 1796. George Howell was perhaps the son of the the firms namesake who ultimately inherited his grandfather Samuel Howell’s estate (Josiah Granville Leach, Genealogical and Biographical Memorials of the Reading, Howell, Yerkes, Watts, Latham, and Elkins Families [Philadelphia, 1898], 153, 159–63, 170–2, 180; Statement of Nailery Profits at 30 Sep. 1797).

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