Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Strickland, 30 June 1803

To William Strickland

Washington June 30. 1803.

Dear Sir

It is long since I had the pleasure of hearing1 from you, of which I take all the blame2 on myself; acknoleging myself to be entirely the defaulter. with a mass generally before me which will not admit delay, I have suffered those things to lie too long3 which might bear some postponement4 without reproach. knowing your love of agriculture, and your skill in it, I could not pretermit the occasion of sending you the inclosed pamphlet on the use of Gypsum, by a mr Binns, a plain farmer, who understands handling his plough better than his pen. he is certainly somewhat of an enthusiast5 in the use of this manure: but he has a right to be so. the result of his husbandry proves his confidence in it well founded, for from being poor, it has made him rich.6 the county of Loudon, in which he lives,7 exhausted & wasted by bad husbandry, has, from his example, become8 the most productive one in Virginia: and it’s lands, from being the lowest,9 sell at the highest prices. these facts speak more strongly for his pamphlet than a better arrangement & more polished phrases would have done. were I now a farmer I should surely adopt the gypsum. but when I found myself called from home for four years certain, perhaps for eight, I leased the farms in which I had begun the course of husbandry which you saw: obliging10 the tenant to continue the same. he does so in a good degree, and I have reason to be content with the result.

We see here with great concern the necessity which seems to have befallen you of renewing the war, in order to stop the torrent which is overwhelming the world.11 the interest which my countrymen felt in the first stages of the French revolution has been done away by it’s issue: and they no longer see the good of mankind as likely to flow from the successes of that nation. still enamoured however with peace & commerce,12 we hope13 to find the indulgence of them in the interest of both parties: and that doing no injustice ourselves, none will be offered us. we have important interests indeed to settle, but we would rather settle them by reason than an appeal to force.

It will always give me great pleasure to hear of your welfare and that of those dear to you: and it is with great sincerity that I assure you of my constant attachment, and great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of first page: “William Strickland esq.” Dft (DLC); undated; with calculations by TJ on verso. Enclosure: John A. Binns, A Treatise on Practical Farming (see enclosure listed at TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, 14 June). Enclosed in TJ to George W. Erving, 10 July.

pleasure of hearing from you: Strickland to TJ, 16 July 1798. For TJ’s last letter to the Yorkshire agriculturist, see Vol. 30:209–14.

you saw: Strickland visited TJ at Monticello in May 1795 (Vol. 28:371–3). tenant: John H. Craven leased TJ’s land at Monticello. When TJ resumed his agricultural pursuits as a retired president, he purchased and applied large quantities of gypsum annually to his land (RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004- , 9 vols. description ends , 2:197; Vol. 32:108–10, 163–6).

1In Dft TJ wrote “receiving a line” in place of preceding word.

2Dft: “cause.”

3Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

4Word interlined in Dft in place of “delay.”

5Dft: “somewhat enthusiastical.”

6In Dft TJ here canceled “and his conviction” and “his [example].”

7Preceding four words interlined in Dft.

8Preceding five words interlined in Dft without punctuation in place of “to become a [. . .].”

9In Dft TJ first wrote “are become the highest priced” before altering the remainder of the sentence to read as above.

10Dft: “husbandry you saw, only obliging.”

11In Dft preceding four words interlined in place of “seems to threaten a general deluge.”

12In Dft preceding word interlined in place of “tranquility.”

13In Dft TJ here canceled “we shall not.”

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