Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Charles Johnston, 18 February 1810

To Charles Johnston

Monticello Feb. 18. 10.


Mr Burgess Griffin informs me he has sold you my crop of tobacco made at the Poplar forest the last year, for which you will make paiment there, or preferably in Richmond, as far as may be convenient to me. be pleased therefore to pay to mr Burgess Griffin the sum of seventy four Dollars 29. cents, and in addition to this the proportion of the whole amount as it shall become due for his & the other overseer’s shares, making together about one eighth of the whole, but the exact amount he will more exactly state to you. what shall remain be pleased to1 give orders for in Richmond paiable to Messrs Gibson & Jefferson, doing me the favor to give me by post a line of information whenever such order is sent to them. accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Charles Johnston Lynchburg”; endorsed by TJ.

Charles Johnston (1769–1833) spent five weeks as a prisoner of the Shawnee Indians in 1790 and later published an account of his captivity that may have inspired portions of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Deerslayer. He became a merchant in Richmond before moving in 1808 to Campbell County, where he built a large house that he named Sandusky. By 1821 he had purchased large tracts of land across the Blue Ridge and relocated to a summer resort he opened at Botetourt Springs, near what became the city of Roanoke (A Narrative of the Incidents Attending the Capture, Detention, and Ransom of Charles Johnston, of Botetourt County, Virginia [1827], esp. 7, 57, 60; Richard Vanderbeets, “Cooper and the ‘Semblance of Reality’: A Source for The Deerslayer,” American Literature 42 [1971]: 544–6; Ruth H. Early, Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches, Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782–1926 [1927], 439–43; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 2d ser., 9 [1929]: 328, 330; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 23; Lynchburg Virginian, 31 Jan. 1833).

A letter from burgess griffin to TJ of 16 Jan. 1810, presumably informing him of the sale of his tobacco, is recorded in SJL as received from Poplar Forest on 30 Jan. 1810, but has not been found. SJL also records TJ’s missing response to Griffin of 18 Feb. 1810. The sum of $74.29 represented Griffin’s share of the tobacco grown in 1808, while his & the other overseer’s shares for the present year came to $281.85. In all, Johnston purchased twenty-four hogsheads of tobacco from TJ for $2207.16 (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 , 2:1254, 1256).

A letter from Johnston to TJ of 12 Mar. 1810, not found, is recorded in SJL as received from Lynchburg on 24 Mar. 1810.

1TJ here canceled “remit.”

Index Entries

  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); tobacco sold for TJ search
  • Griffin, Burgess; letters from accounted for search
  • Griffin, Burgess; letters to accounted for search
  • Griffin, Burgess; share of crops sold search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; sells tobacco search
  • Johnston, Charles; identified search
  • Johnston, Charles; letters from accounted for search
  • Johnston, Charles; letters to search
  • Johnston, Charles; purchases TJ’s tobacco search
  • overseers; crop share of search
  • Page, Samuel (Poplar Forest overseer); share of crops search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); Overseers at; crop share of search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); tobacco grown at search
  • tobacco; grown at Poplar Forest search