Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jones & Howell to Thomas Jefferson, 17 December 1810

From Jones & Howell

Phila 17th Decr 1810

Dear Sir

Since we last had communication with you Circumstances have very much Chang’d. at that time we could borrow of the Banks on any emergency that pressd us indeed we had borrowed more or less all along until lately we have had to pay it off and it leaves in A very disagreeable situation as we had vested much of our property in Manufactories of Iron and Steel both of which we carry on to A considerable extent and whatever profit arose therefrom we have vested in wood Land to supply us with Fuel. we mention these things as an apology for our calling on you for the Amot of your acct. to Borrow is now out of our power and pay we must as we have about 200 people employ’d for which in provisions &c little short of 500 Dollars weekly must be had. and it would seem as though the circulation of money was almost suspended owing we believe principally to the situation in which the United States Bank stands in with respect to the expiratn of its Charter. we do not pretend to be judges of the propriety of establishing this institution in the first Instance but we both see and feel the ruin that will inevitably overwhelm thousands of us if it now is obliged to close its concerns within the period prescribed by law. this ruin will fall principally on those like ourselves engaged in manufacturing pursuits, or some active business with but small Capitals. the Rich will not feel it or if they do at all they will feel it to their advantage. all these things you no doubt know very well. you will however please excuse us as we feel their effects too sensibly to be silent.

we are respectfully yours

Jones & Howell

RC (MHi); idiosyncratic periods omitted; between dateline and salutation: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Dec. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Jones & Howell’s most recent communication of 12 May 1810 (not found; see George Jefferson to TJ, 11 June 1810) evidently echoed the firm’s assurance to TJ on 16 Aug. 1809 that, as a regular customer, he would continue to receive credit through the banks. Renewal of the 1791 charter of the Bank of the United States, set to expire on 3 Mar. 1811, had been postponed by Congress early in 1810 and taken up again in January 1811. After lengthy debate, on 20 Feb. 1811 a Senate majority accepted arguments that the bank was unconstitutional and defeated the measure (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (all editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers) description ends , 11th Cong., 3d sess., 329–47; Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War [1957], 209–14).

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States; and renewal of charter search
  • Congress, U.S.; and renewal of bank charter search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; account with Jones & Howell search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); account with TJ search
  • Jones & Howell (Philadelphia firm); letters from search