Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, 28 November 1796

To Thomas Mann Randolph

Monticello Nov. 28. 96.

Th:J. to TMR.

It is so cold that the freezing of the ink on the point of my pen renders it difficult to write. We have had the thermometer at 12°. My works are arrested in a state entirely unfinished, and I fear we shall not be able to resume them. Clarke has sold our wheat in Bedford for 8/6 and the rise to the 1st. of June, with some other modifications. It appears to be a good sale. He preferred it to 10/6 certain which was offered him. I think he was right as there is little appearance of any intermission of the war.—I thank you for your letter of news, and am glad to see the republican preeminence in our assembly.—The paper you inclosed me presents a result entirely questionable according to my own ideas of the subject. The preponderance of the Mckain interest in the Western counties of Pensylvania is by no means as great as is there supposed. Few will believe the true dispositions of my mind on that subject. It is not the less true however that I do sincerely wish to be the second on that vote rather than the first. The considerations which induce this preference are solid, whether viewed with relation to interest, happiness, or reputation. Ambition is long since dead in my mind. Yet even a well-weighed ambition would take the same side.—My new threshing machine will be tried this week.—P. Carr is on the point of marriage.—All are well here, and join in the hope of your continuing so. Adieu.

RC (DLC); endorsed by Randolph. PrC (MHi); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Letter of news: probably Randolph to TJ of 23 Nov. 1796, recorded in SJL as received from Richmond three days later. Neither the letter nor the enclosed paper has been found.

The long-awaited presidential election results from Westmoreland and Fayette, Pennsylvania’s western counties, did not arrive in Philadelphia until 24 Nov. 1796, six days after the date required by the election law. The returns gave Thomas McKean, who headed the list of the state’s 15 Republican electoral candidates, the votes he needed to win in a very close race. Only two Federalists were among the 15 electors, but even they would have lost if the returns from Greene County had arrived soon enough to be included in the count. When the electors met in Harrisburg on 7 Dec. 1796, Samuel Miles, a Federalist, cast his vote for TJ. Thus Adams received only one electoral vote in Pennsylvania (Harry M. Tinkcom, The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790–1801 [Harrisburg, 1950], 167–72).

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