Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, 30 October 1799

To Littleton W. Tazewell

Monticello Oct. 30. 1799.


By a settlement between mr Wickam as agent for Walsh & Cary of London, & mr Eppes, mr Skipwith & myself as exrs of mr Wayles, a debt of his, due to Cary & Walsh was divided between us, each to pay one third part at certain instalments annually on the 19th. of July. we informed mr Wickam that as the payments would be made out of our annual crops, we should expect to be indulged so far as to sell them at the most advantageous moment. accordingly as tobaccoes if kept till the autumn of the year after they are made, are then considered as old, and sell much higher, I did not pay my last year’s instalment of 1000. D. to mr Wickam till Oct. 1. foreseeing that this year I should be still later in selling I wrote to inform him of it, and that I should be later in paying. he has since informed me that that business is put into your hands. I do not know whether he communicated my letter to you: if he did not I fear you will have considered me as improperly in default. I have been very unlucky in not selling my tobacco early this year when I could have got 11. D. for it. I postponed it on the general observation that it always sells higher in the fall. in the meantime it has so fallen as to give me little hope of a tolerable price unless the exportation to France should be permitted. I must now order my tobo. on to Philadelphia, where I shall probably not sell it till the last of the year, nor be in condition to pay the instalment of this year till enabled by that sale. I have 50. per weight of the last year’s crop on hand, and the object of the present is to assure you that the instalment of this year shall be sacredly paid out of it’s proceeds. I am in hopes that a moderate sacrifice of time on the part of the creditor, where an interest is paid for it, will be thought more reasonable than a great sacrifice of price by the debtor by being obliged to sell at an unfavorable market.

I am happy in the occasion which this matter of business has furnished of addressing you. I had a great affection for your father, an intimate knowlege of his worth, confirmed by an acquaintance of five & twenty years. it will give me pleasure at any time by any useful office in my power to evidence to you that my affections have not died with their object, and to prove those sentiments of esteem with which I am Sir

Your most obedt. & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (Harry L. Dalton, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, 1950); addressed: “Littleton W. Tazewell esq. at Kingsmill near Williamsburg”; franked; endorsed by Tazewell. PrC (MHi); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Littleton Waller Tazewell (1774–1860), son of Henry and Dorothea Elizabeth Waller Tazewell, studied with his grandfather, Judge Benjamin Waller, and with George Wythe before entering the College of William and Mary, from which he graduated in 1791. Completing his studies in John Wickham’s law office in Richmond, he became an attorney in 1796. He served intermittently in the Virginia House of Delegates, the first time from 1798 to 1800. He was then elected to Congress to complete John Marshall’s term. In 1802 he moved from Williamsburg to Norfolk, where he became a leading attorney and defender of policies to encourage the seaport’s economy. Just as his father came to the U.S. Senate upon the resignation of John Taylor in 1794, Tazewell was elected to the body following Taylor’s death 30 years later and remained until 1832. He was a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829–30 and served as governor of Virginia from 1834 to 1836. In 1810 Tazewell agreed to act as TJ’s attorney—along with George Hay and William Wirt—in the Batture case initiated by Edward Livingston. Tazewell was still serving as Wakelin Welch’s agent when TJ gave a new bond for the remaining unpaid debt in 1810 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; 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 , 2:1258, 1276; TJ to Tazewell, 28 June, and Tazewell to TJ, 5 July 1810).

For the settlement of the debt which the Wayles estate owed Robert Cary & Co., arranged by John Wickham for Welch, see TJ to Francis Eppes, 4 Aug. 1796, and TJ to Wickham, 20 Jan. 1797. While Eppes and Henry Skipwith agreed to make their payments on 1 June, TJ scheduled his for 1 July to allow more time for the sale of his wheat and tobacco. For the delay of TJ’s first payment until 1 Oct., see TJ to Wickham, 25 Mch. and 15 June 1798. I wrote to inform him: TJ to Wickham, 6 May 1799.

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