Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Barnes, 28 January 1797

To John Barnes

Monticello Jan. 28. 97.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 2d. inst. came to hand only last night, having been delayed by the failure of the post two weeks successively, to come, perhaps on account of ice and bad weather. I am sorry a want of form in the power inclosed prevented your drawing Mr. Short’s interest on the 1st. inst. and very thankful for your not suffering my bill to come back. The purpose as to Mr. Short was a very essential one, as it was to answer requisitions for his canal shares, liable to be sold on [the?] 2d. of Jan. if the requisition had not been paid. I now inclose you a new power of attorney modelled according to the one you inclosed me, which I hope will put you out of a state of advance for us. Should any nicety of form still render this insufficient (which I cannot foresee) I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in Philadelphia before you could apprise me of [it and?] receive an answer but I hope there will be no further difficulty. I do not understand the terms of the law you inclosed me […]1 able to guess even what sum of dividends was due on the […] however [I have made the power inclosed?] to all which […]2 on that […] [or] […]3 any [prescribing?] times. Is it 3 1/2 per cent. per ann. or per quarter, or 6. per cent. per ann. or per quarter [that] is to be paid: such paiments per annum will never touch the principal, and such per quarter would pay it much sooner than 1818. yet the act does not say whether the dividends are to be quarterly or only annual. This you [can] explain to me when I see you. In the mean time I am with great esteem Dear Sir Your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (CSmH); faded; at foot of text: “Mr. John Barnes”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosure not found.

Barnes’s favor of 2 Jan. 1797, recorded in SJL as received 27 Jan. 1797, has not been found. Also recorded in SJL but missing is a letter from TJ to Barnes of 17 Dec. 1796, which enclosed a power of attorney authorizing Barnes to receive interest payable to William Short on 1 Jan. 1797 (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, 950). The requisitions on Short’s canal shares were for a loan by shareholders of the James River Company to fund completion of that project, which TJ had agreed to on Short’s behalf. To meet that obligation, TJ wrote an order on Barnes, 25 Dec. 1796, for $300 in favor of Charles Johnston & Co. (same, 951; TJ to Short, 12 Mch. 1797). On 2 Jan. 1797 Robert Pollard, the canal company’s treasurer, acknowledged receipt of £198 in principal and £5.9.1 in interest from Johnston & Co. as payment of two requisitions for the loan subscription on Short’s 33 shares (MS in DLC: Short Papers, entirely in Pollard’s hand and signed by him, endorsed by TJ).

The law TJ inquired about was probably “An Act in addition to an act intituled ‘An act making further provision for the support of Public Credit, and for the redemption of the Public Debt,’”’approved 28 Apr. 1796, under which holders of six percent funded stock of the United States, such as Short, would be paid quarterly dividends from 1796 through 1818, three of the dividends each year to be at 1 1/2 percent of the original capital, and the other dividend at 3 1/2 percent (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , I, 458–9).

A power of attorney from TJ to Barnes, dated 29 Jan. 1797 and described as authorizing Barnes to receive Short’s “dividends on a certain certificate,” has not been found (Robert F. Batchelder Catalog No. 13, April 1976, Lot 106). TJ wrote a draft on Barnes, 18 Dec. 1796, ordering payment of $200 to Johnston & Co. at ten days’ sight (PrC in MHi; at foot of text: “Mr. John Barnes Mercht. Philadelphia S. 3d. street”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso). SJL records a letter from TJ to Barnes of 18 Dec. 1796, and one written by Barnes to TJ on that date and received 31 Dec. 1796, neither of which has been found.

1Estimated two words illegible.

2Estimated three words illegible.

3Illegible word interlined.

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