Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jonathan Brunt to Thomas Jefferson, 31 July 1809

From Jonathan Brunt

Nashville, (Tene) July 31st 1809.—

Honble mr. Jefferson, sir,

I was at your house at Monticello the latter end of September, 1807, where I was treated by your Excellency with Christian hospitality—in order that you may, sir, recollect my person the better, I had on a blue coat & old white wool hat, and was on my way to Lynchburg, to get employment in the printing-office there, where I worked 1½ day, the owner of which paid me liberally: I then started off for Raleigh in North Carolina, but could not get regular employment there, only I had the priviledge of printing a pamphlet there—from thence I went to Augusta, in Georgia, where I arrived the latter end of November, 1807; if my memory serves me right, I directed a letter to your Excellency, dated the latter end of said month, requesting your interference for me, to Congress, to obtain restitution for the personal injuries I have received in America from evil-disposed persons. These personal domestic injuries, sir, are of an alarming nature: advancing age creeps on and I have not a proper home in said America: where, thro’ the domestic1 mania of wicked and idle speculations, not only my father’s property, but the property of all his relations, has been sacrificed, to gratify the said intriguing corruption’s cause, and I am left nearly2 destitute.—In the spring, I wrote three different letters to mr. Madison on the same subject; but I have little hopes of their being noticed in an equal & proper way in my favour.—If mr. Jefferson please, you can see, possibly, the contents of them. If my father’s property is sent to America, it would be very improper for me to attempt to return to England, especially while the political war is carrying on bet[ween] the two neighbouring nations.—The principa[l inten]tion of this letter is to request your Excellency to let me come to Monticello, to have a private room there, for I must die ere long, except Deity work another miracle for me.—The sooner I get out of this knavish world, the better.—I hope sir, your religious principles are the same you had in your youth.—Tho’ I have wrote to a printer at New Orleans, about the printing business there, yet I do not want to go there:—The warmness of the climate is not the only reason.—I am now printing a small pamphlet, one of which I will send by post to Monticello—next month.—Permit me, sir, to subscribe myself your obedt sert

Jonathan Brunt, printer.—

RC (MHi); torn at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, esqr Monticello, Virginia”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Aug. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

Jonathan Brunt (b. 1760), itinerant and apparently delusional printer, was a native of Derbyshire, England, who immigrated to the United States about 1794. Later, in 1809, 1811, and 1815, TJ gave him small sums in charity (Brunt, Few Particulars in the Life of Jonathan Brunt, Junior, Printer & Bookseller, 3d ed. [1797]; Brunt to TJ, 25 Oct. 1802, 30 Nov. 1807 [DLC]; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3320; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1250, 1270, 1306).

Two extant letters to mr. madison dwelt on past and future efforts to poison Brunt (Brunt to James Madison, 29 Apr., 1 June 1809, DLC: Madison Papers). The pamphlet was probably The Little Medly: containing short remarks on the genuine principles and exalted spirit of the glorious gospel of the New Testament … (Knoxville, Tenn., 1809).

1Word interlined in place of “mea[n].”

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Brunt, Jonathan; identified search
  • Brunt, Jonathan; letters from search
  • Brunt, Jonathan; The Little Medly: containing short remarks on the … New Testament search
  • Brunt, Jonathan; visits Monticello search
  • charity; requests to TJ for search
  • Madison, James; J. Brunt requests assistance from search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Brunt, Jonathan search
  • The Little Medly: containing short remarks on the … New Testament (Brunt) search