Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Ronaldson to Thomas Jefferson, 4 March 1810

From James Ronaldson

Paris March 4 1810


I have taken the liberty of sending you the seeds contained in the annexed list: The circumstance of being in Paris affoarded an opportunity of inquiring a little after the articles cultivated through the extensive and varigated country of France, but unacquainted with the language, my observations have been very limited. As the US possesses so great an extent of surface and deversity of climate, there must be in such a country, soil and situation favourable to the growth of most plants that thrive in Europe and it is our interest to give all of them a trial

The cultivation of oil has been too little attended to by the American farmer this branch of agriculture certainly deserves much attention, it is probable all or most of the seeds belonging to this class have already been in the United States, but many of them have not received such attention as they merit; the centeral situation of Monticello promises them a fair experiment, and they will find in the character of its proprietor that intelligence and care1 that allways deserves and generally commands success; It is very possible that formerly the cultivation of these were not an object to the American farmer, but under present circumstances they may be of the highest importance, at all events it is pleasing and safe to multiply the productions of the soil; And circumstances pressing the US faster than was expected, into manufacturing habits it is of the first importance to possess the materials for dyeing— The date and olive are both of great importance; and the opening of the extensive forrests of America is every day preparing a climate more congenial to their European habits, many years being requisite to bring them to maturity, their cultivation merits the most early attention—If the stem of the tall cabbage can support our winter, in a rich soil it is probable early in spring it will throw out abundance of sprouts that beside furnishing an excellent vegitable for table would supply food for cattle, sheep & lambs—Scarlet clover being an Annuel on first reflection appears not calculated to improve our pasture, but as good farmers do not eat their pasture bare, many pla[nts] arrive at maturity, and the cattle kick out the seed in all directions, & the ground is plenished with a sufficiency for the ensuing year; it is owing to this circumstance that clover continues for many years in well managed pasture, while on cutting ground it soon fails—The Oil Raddish is new in this quarter—Some of the French names are omitted I was not able to make them out with certainty and did not wish to hazzard an error.

On your own and societys account, I pray you may enjoy many years, all of them as emenantly usefull and honorable to yourself & country2 as those that are past; with sentiments of Re spect I am with Sincere regards


James Ronaldson

List of seeds sent
Canary seed Alpiste
Oil poppy œillette
do do white seeded Pavot blanc
Dates Datties
Olive Olivies
Seigle de mare Spring Rye
Teazel Chardon à foulon
Blue Woad Pastel
Perenniel Flax lin Vivace
Gold of Pleasure (oil plant)  Cameline
Oil Raddish Radis Oleifer de la Chine
Sainfoin that gives two crops annum
Tall cabbage Chou cavalier
Scarlet clover (an Annuel) Trifle de Roussillon
Naked Barley orge nud

RC (DLC); edge chipped; addressed: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Montecllo”; franked; postmarked Washington 22 May; endorsed by TJ as received 27 May 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Reworked from “your country.”

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