Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 4 August 1796

To Francis Eppes

Monticello Aug. 4. 1796.

Dear Sir

I recieve with great satisfaction your information that we are likely to get Cary’s claim against us settled on proper terms, and hasten to give my consent to any settlement you shall make, that it may recieve no delay from me. I had hoped indeed that a greater number of instalments would have been allowed us. Even Hanson gave us seven; a number which I would not ask from Mr. Welsh; but from my personal knolege of his very indulgent disposition towards us, and that all he cares about is, not the time when he shall recieve the money, but an assurance that he shall recieve it ultimately, I am persuaded he would consent without hesitation to more than three. I should have proposed five, and think Mr. Wickham will run no risque of displeasing his principal by fixing it at that number. Still I repeat that I will execute any agreement you shall make, and will send my bonds to Mr. Wickham as soon as I am informed of the sums and times allotted to me. I will give security too by a mortgage on negroes. It will be the first mortgage I ever gave, but had rather do it than that any body else should be made responsible for me. Mr. Wickam may say what number of slaves he thinks sufficient, and I will allot all those of some particular plantation or plantations to avoid the apprehensions of any unfair selection. I hope still that the money he is suing for us from R. Randolph’s estate with the £1218—16—1 due from A. Cary’s executors, will come in time to satisfy the bonds we shall give to Mr. Walsh.—With respect to the issuing execution for this last, I am content it shall be suspended till towards the meeting of the assembly; but not till they meet, lest they should renew the replevin law. It is impossible you should not become sensible on reflection that if an execution be not shortly levied we shall lose the debt. But this we will talk over when we meet, which you give me reason to hope will be in September, and here. I would have been to see you before this, but that a journey would be dangerous for my health which I lately begin to hope may with care be placed on a less discoraging footing. I must always except out of A. Cary’s money so much as may replace what I paid Mr. Wickam for the estate. The balance only to go to him for Mr. Walsh. You did right in paying Jack £65. which I will consider as part of my reimbursement from the funds of the estate.—I am just finishing a threshing machine, which I hope will be at work within a week. If you come early in September it will probably be still at work at some of mine or Mr. Randolph’s barns. If it were an untried thing I should not recommend it to your attention; but it’s efficacy has been proved by so many years experience in G. Britain, and so generally that I do not apprehend a failure in it’s performance: and it must be immensely interesting to you. Present my warm and never ceasing affections to Mrs. Eppes, and the blessings of an old man to all the young ones. To yourself every sentiment of sincere esteem and attachment from Dear Sir Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); addressed: “Francis Eppes esq. at Eppington. to be delivered to the care of Mr. Dabney Richmond”; stamped.

The information on the settlement of the claim of Robert Cary & Company against the estate of John Wayles was probably included in the letter from Eppes to TJ of 25 July 1796, recorded in SJL as received 28 July 1796, but not found. SJL also records letters from Eppes to TJ of 28 Dec. 1795, received 16 Jan. 1796, and from TJ to Eppes of 10 Dec. 1795 and 1 Feb. 1796, which are now missing.

Bonds to Mr. Wickham: see TJ to John Wickham, 20 Jan. 1797. For previous plans to mortgage slaves to Wakelin Welch, Sr., see TJ to James Lyle, 12 May 1796. Since 1786, TJ had coupled the payment of the debt to Cary & Company with Archibald Cary’s payment of a large sum he owed to the Wayles estate. After Cary’s death in 1787, the Wayles executors received a judgment against Cary’s executors, but the debt remained uncollected. In 1795 TJ paid Bushrod Washington for advice in the case (TJ to Francis Eppes, 22 Apr. 1786, 30 July 1787, 7 Apr. 1793; James Currie to TJ, 2 May 1787; TJ to James Brown, 20 Dec. 1792; 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, 934). The Replevin Law of 1787 allowed debtors upon execution of a judgment against them to give 12-month “replevy” bonds and have their property restored if commissioners, appointed under the law, agreed that the levied property would not sell for three-fourths of its value. In 1795 the legislature abolished the use of these bonds (Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends xii, 457–60; Shepherd, Statutes description begins Samuel Shepherd, ed., The Statutes at Large of Virginia, from October Session 1792, to December Session 1806 …, Richmond, 1835–36, 3 vols. description ends i, 355–6; Marshall, Papers, description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends v, 348n).

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