To George Jefferson
Monticello Oct. 14. 99.
In the year 1774 (before a shilling of paper money had issued) I sold about […] acres of land in [Cumber]land & Bedford to pay my part of a debt of mr Wayles to Farrel & Jones. I offered the bonds to their agent immediately but he refused to take them. the money was paid to me in 79. 80. &c. I [then carried it] to the treasury as the laws pressed on all to do who owed money to British subjects, declaring that the public would pay it [over] dollar for dollar. this [delusion soon passed away] and, it became evident to me that the public [neither could or ought] to pay according to the [nominal value]. I therefore considered myself from that time as still answerable to the debt and accordingly settled with them otherwise: and I have [never] […] to that […] for restitution: nor do I know [how or] to whom I should apply. will you be so good as to enquire [and report on] what steps I must [take?] I inclose a [note of the] two reciepts, and […] in a […] I shall be advised is required to […] the principal according to the Virginia depreciation [table?] is not quite [300.] D. if interest be allowed it will […]. I am Dear Sir
PrC (MHi); faint, with several illegible phrases; memorandum letterpressed on same sheet below closing in place of signature; at foot of text: “Mr. George Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosure: Memorandum for the most part illegible except for the amounts “167.67” and “122. 45” with the total “290.12” (PrC in same; pressed on same sheet as letter above).
Much of the language used by TJ in the first part of this letter (to “otherwise:” in the sixth sentence) is repeated in the introduction to TJ’s letter to William Jones of 5 Jan. 1787, which appeared in the Richmond Examiner on 7 Mch. 1800 to refute charges that TJ had not paid his British debts. According to that account TJ sold about 5,000 acres of land in the counties of Cumberland and Bedford (note to Statement for the Aurora, printed at 25 Mch. 1800).
Their agent: Thomas Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends factor for Farell & Jones, refused to accept the bonds TJ received upon the sale of lands to pay his share of the Wayles estate debt. TJ subsequently received payments for the land in paper money, which Virginians were obliged to accept as legal tender. TJ deposited the money in the Virginia loan office as provided by the Sequestration Act—passed by the Virginia Assembly in January 1778 and repealed in May 1780—presumably to be turned over to British creditors after the war. Even before the courts ruled that the payments into the Virginia treasury could not be used to discharge debts due British subjects, TJ had made other arrangements to settle his account with Farell & Jones. In December 1796 the state legislature provided for the repayment of the monies deposited in the treasury under the war legislation. A certificate would be issued for each sum paid into the treasury, adjusted according to a scale established by a previous act “directing the mode of adjusting and settling the payment of certain debts.” Six percent interest was allowed on the wartime deposits. For the payment on TJ’s certificates, see George Jefferson to TJ, 18 Nov. 1799 (Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 1:441–4; 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 9:377-80; 10:227; 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 , 2:17–18; 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 1:380, 474; Bill for Sequestering British Property, at 13 Jan. 1778; TJ to William Jones, 5 Jan. 1787).