Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Charles Clay, 15 December 1809

To Charles Clay

Monticello Dec. 15. 09.

Dear Sir

This will be handed you by my son in law, mr Randolph with the integrity & honor of whose character you are already acquainted. an urgent occasion to raise a considerable sum of money in the course of a year, and a part of it (2000.D.) within the month of January, has induced me to propose to him the curtailing the outskirts of my Poplar Forest lands, as the most probable means of effecting it. I did not know of this urgency when I had the pleasure of seeing you in Bedford, or I would have set on foot this expedient with the benefit of more time, if the first sum could not have been otherwise procured. your knolege of the value of the land, of the price it should command, as prices go with you, & of the characters who may be disposed to purchase & likely to fulfill their engagements, induces me to ask your friendly information, counsel & aid to him towards effecting his object, which will be cordially acknoleged by me as a great obligation, feeling as anxiously interested in his case as if it were my own. I pray you to be assured of my constant esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Charles Clay esquire”; endorsed by TJ.

Charles Clay (1745–1820), TJ’s longtime friend, was a Virginia native ordained as an Anglican clergyman in London in 1769. He served as rector of Saint Anne’s Parish in Albemarle County from that year until 1782. Clay then withdrew from active ministry (with a brief exception in the mid-1780s in Chesterfield County). He moved to Bedford County, where he built a house at Ivy Hill near TJ’s own Poplar Forest estate, farmed, voted against the new United States Constitution at the state ratification convention of 1788, unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1790 and 1792, and occasionally officiated at weddings and funerals (DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ; William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia [1857], 2:48–50; Clay Family Papers, ViHi; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 3:67, 16:129–30, 24:283–4; 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 , 1:370–1, 2:1178).

Index Entries

  • Clay, Charles; and sale of Poplar Forest land search
  • Clay, Charles; identified search
  • Clay, Charles; letters to search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); attempted sale of part of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and sale of part of Poplar Forest search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); TJ on search