Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Law, 4 December 1800

From Thomas Law

Washington Decr 4. 1800.


As you feel an interest in every measure for the amelioration of the condition of man, I will not apologize for submitting to your perusal some Lres which occasioned Security & prosperity to 50 Millions of Asiatics, but I must make my excuses for the trouble I have caused by not being versed in the art of Book making—If you begin at page 38 where I have put some papers, you will perhaps obtain a sufft insight into my plan—

As you are debarred from the agreeable Society of Philadelphia, You may perhaps by these tracts pass away an hour or two not unacceptably in being made acquainted with what cost me many Years of consideration & trouble

I remain With respect yr mt Ob He St

Thomas Law.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 4 Dec. and so recorded in SJL.

Thomas Law (1756–1834), son of the Right Reverend Edmund Law, Lord Bishop of Carlisle, was born in Cambridge, England, to a prosperous family. In 1773 he traveled to India as a writer in the civil service of the East India Company where he was promoted from novice to the collectorship of the Bahar in 1783. Law became a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Association for Preserving Liberty and Property and wrote several pamphlets on land usage and taxation in India. Declining health prompted Law’s departure from India. In 1794 he arrived in New York after suing the East India Company for seizing onefifth of his fortune acquired in India. Law moved to Washington where, in 1796, he entered into a marriage settlement or indenture tripartite with Elizabeth Parke Custis (Martha Washington’s granddaughter) and James Barry as trustee. The couple gave many grand parties in Washington society. Law traveled to England without his wife, however, in 1802, submitted official separation documents in 1804, and filed a bill for divorce in 1810. Most of Law’s money was invested in land and houses in Washington. An avid promoter of a national currency, Law published some of his writings with the Columbian Institute and the National Intelligencer under the pseudonym, “Homo” (O. P. Kejariwal, The Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Discovery of India’s Past 1784–1838 [Delhi, 1988], 34, 38; Bryan, National Capital description begins Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan, A History of the National Capital From Its Foundation Through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act, New York, 1914–16, 2 vols. description ends , 1:244–7; Allen C. Clark, Greenleaf and Law in the Federal City [Washington, D.C., 1901], 237, 285–9).

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