Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Daniel Call, 15 August 1799

To Daniel Call

Monticello Aug. 15. 99.


Understanding that mr Washington has left under your care a suit of mine1 in Chancery against Henderson & al. I take the liberty of troubling you on it. it’s object is to oblige the defs to lower their mill dam so much as to restore their water to it’s antient level, as it was when a mill of mine above theirs was standing. the bill & a deposition taken de bene esse state all the facts with accuracy, & I believe the defs are satisfied they must take down their dam, & only therefore aim at delay. and certainly delay has been unaccountably produced. I have been so long prevented by it from rebuilding my mill; but have determined to effect it this fall. yet I am really at a loss how to do it, for on this decision depends the spot for placing the millhouse, as it would be very different in the present state of Henderson’s mill pond from what it will be if I recover my antient water & position. I take the liberty of asking your particular attention to expedite this case & to obtain for me a decree. I had paid a fee to mr Washington and now inclose you an order for one, on mr Jefferson of Richmond. it will be of importance to me to be informed when a decision may be expected. I am Sir

Your very humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (PWacD: Feinstone Collection, on deposit PPAmP); at foot of text: “Majr. Call.” PrC (MHi); lacks signature and Call’s name, which TJ added in ink; with enclosure pressed at bottom of sheet. Enclosure: order on George Jefferson & Co., 15 Aug. 1799, to pay Call £5 for value received (PrC in same; in TJ’s hand and signed by him; pressed on same sheet as letter).

As indicated by this letter, attorney Daniel Call (ca. 1765–1840) took on some of Bushrod Washington’s law cases after John Adams offered Washington a place on the Supreme Court in October 1798. Call, who was married to a sister-in-law of John Marshall, also succeeded Washington as the compiler of the published case reports of the Virginia Court of Appeals (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 , 2:111n; 5:454; Lucian Lamar Knight, comp., Biographical Dictionary of Authors, vol. 15 of Library of Southern Literature, [Atlanta, 1907], 68; DHSC description begins Maeva Marcus and others, eds., The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States 1789–1800, New York, 1985–2007, 8 vols. description ends , 1, pt. 1:133–5).

For TJ’s initiation of his suit against the heirs of Bennet Henderson, the bill in chancery filed in the case, and the deposition of Thomas Morgan, see Vol. 28:471–4, 479–85, 520.

TJ recorded the payment of the fee under this date in his financial memoranda (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 2:1005).

1Two words interlined.

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