Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Barnes, 10 March 1799

From John Barnes

Philadelphia 10th March 1799

Sir.

The fate of Our subscriptions to the Loan of five Millions—is already made known,—for every 4,000—14 Certificates—and Nearly in that proportion thro out,—the subscription Money on the 26—to be withdrawn—will be repaid—I expect, in a few days—

If the 42—can be consolidated in the Name of William Short, I shall have it done—or—wait the indorsemts.

The sloop Little Jim—is almost loaded, & the Ice wasting—daily—that, I, presume—in the Course of the insuing Week, say 16th. she will have left this port for Norfolk, & Richmond.

Your Linseed Oil—Sweet Oil, Figs & Raisins—Sash Doors—Clover seed, Groceries in general—Books & loose papers—are already packed, & for the most part on Board, but cannot as yet, meet with—either Tongues & sounds—New Rice—or the right Old & White Bourbon Coffee——when these are dispatched—I shall Attend, to Shipping the good Generals, Boxes, and transmit, His Bill of exchange for $1000—per very first good Opportunity—

I hope this will find you safe Arrived and well—with the good families, at Monticello—

I am most respectfully sir Your Obedt: servant

John Barnes

RC (ViU: Edgehill-Randolph Papers); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

Legislation of the previous July authorized the president to initiate a loan of five millions on “such terms and conditions as he shall judge most advantageous for the United States.” Wolcott objected to the discounting of bonds, but found that his insistence on sales at par required the government to offer an interest rate of 8 percent to attract investors. Subscriptions opened on 28 Feb. 1799 at the Bank of the United States. Barnes put in for a $4,000 subscription for Short—40 shares—and identical amounts for Thomas Mann Randolph and John Wayles Eppes, all on Short’s account. Barnes deposited $1,500 as the initial payment for the 120 shares. The loan was vastly oversubscribed, garnering well over $14 million the day it opened. Under the announced terms, which had anticipated the possibility of oversubscription, the three subscriptions entered by Barnes shrank proportionately from 40 shares each to 14. The deposit required for the new total on Short’s account was $525, which amount would also need to be paid monthly, beginning in April and running to October 1799, to complete the subscriptions. For the assignment of certificates for the 42 shares, see Barnes’s letter of 17 Mch. Despite entering two-thirds of the subscription in Randolph’s and Eppes’s names, Barnes and TJ treated the entire $4,200 as Short’s investment (Philadelphia Gazette, 14 Feb., 1, 2 Mch. 1799; 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 , 1:607–8; Edwin J. Perkins, American Public Finance and Financial Services, 1700–1815 [Columbus, Ohio, 1994], 239–40, 328, 395n, 401n; Barnes to George Simpson, 25 Feb. 1799 [FC in DLC: Short Papers; endorsed by TJ]; Barnes statement of account with Short, 7 Oct. 1799 [MS in same]; Barnes to Short, 21 Jan. 1801, in same; TJ to Madison, 14 June 1798, 16 Jan. 1799; TJ to Short, 13 Apr. 1800).

At some time, probably early in 1799, Barnes made notes of the value of the U.S. securities already held by Short, noting the worth at the close of 1798 of his shares in the six percent and three percent loans and some additional payments of interest and principal, and projecting also what the six percent certificates might bring if sold at various rates (MS in DLC: Short Papers; in Barnes’s hand; endorsed by TJ: “Short Wm mr Barnes’s note of his stock & it’s value”).

For Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s Boxes and Bill of exchange, see TJ to Kosciuszko, 21 Feb. 1799.

Under his power of attorney from Short, TJ on 28 Feb. 1799 wrote two orders to John Steele authorizing Barnes to receive payments of interest or principal from Short’s government stocks. One order was for payments available as of 1 Apr., while the other covered those due the first of July (RC in NN, at foot of text: “John Steel esq. Comptroller of the US.,” endorsed by Steele on 2 Apr. 1799; RC in CtY, at foot of text: “John Steel Comptroller of the US.,” endorsed by Steele 1 July 1799). A letter from Steele to TJ written on 18 Mch. and received 7 Apr. 1799, is recorded in SJL but has not been found. Also recorded in SJL, but missing, are letters from TJ to Steele of 25 Mch., 2 and 27 May 1796 and from Steele to TJ of 18 Mch. 1796, received the 25th of April, and 18 Jan. 1797, received two days after it was written.

On 2 Feb. 1799 TJ wrote an order on Barnes for payment of $10 to Philadelphia shoe manufacturer John Minchin (MS in MHi, written and signed by TJ, endorsed by Barnes and Minchin; 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 , 2:984, 997). Five days later TJ ordered payment of $23.75 to Samuel Salter for prints (MS in MHi, written and signed by TJ, endorsed by Barnes as received by Samuel Sprage; 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 , 2:998).

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