Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Lyon, 5 September 1811

To James Lyon

Monticello Sep. 5. 1811.


I inclose you the copy of a letter I have recieved from a James L. Edwards of Boston. you will percieve at once it’s swindling object. it appeals to two dead men, and one (yourself) whom he supposes I cannot get at. I have written him an answer which may perhaps prevent his persevering in the attempt, for the whole face of his letter betrays a consciousness of it’s guilt. but perhaps he may expect that I would sacrifice a sum of money rather than be disturbed with encountering a bold falsehood. in this he is mistaken; and to prepare to meet him, should he repeat his demand, and considering that he has presumed to implicate your name in this attempt, I take the liberty of requesting a letter from you bearing testimony to the truth of my never having made to you, or within your knolege or information, any such promise to yourself, your partner Morse, or any other. my confidence in your character leaves me without a doubt of your honest aid in repelling this base & bold attempt to fix on me practices to which no honors, or powers in this world would ever have induced me to stoop. I have sollicited none, intrigued for none. those which my country has thought proper to confide to me, have been of their own mere motion, unasked by me. such practices as this letter-writer imputes to me, would have proved me unworthy of their confidence.

It is long since I have known any thing of your situation or pursuits. I hope they have been succesful, and tender you my best wishes that they may continue so, & for your own health & happiness.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr James Lyon.” Enclosure: James L. Edwards to TJ, 20 Aug. 1811.

James Lyon (1776–1824), journalist, shared the Republican politics of his father, Congressman Matthew Lyon. He founded fourteen newspapers in his native Vermont, Virginia, five other southern states, and the District of Columbia during a thirty-year career. TJ and James Madison both subscribed to his newspapers. Lyon died in Cheraw, South Carolina, where he had established the Pee Dee Gazette in 1820 (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 , esp. 32:261–2, 329; 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 ; Aleine Austin, Matthew Lyon: “New Man” of the Democratic Revolution, 1749–1822 [1981], 17, 76–7, 121; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , esp. 2:1447; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 28 Apr. 1824).

Index Entries

  • Edwards, James L.; and Georgia Republican search
  • Georgia; newspapers search
  • Georgia Republican (Savannah newspaper) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; and newspaper subscriptions search
  • Lyon, James; and Georgia Republican search
  • Lyon, James; identified search
  • Lyon, James; letters to search
  • McLean, Norman; and Georgia Republican search
  • Morse, Samuel; and Georgia Republican search
  • newspapers; Savannah Georgia Republican search
  • newspapers; subscriptions to, by TJ search
  • subscriptions, for publications; newspapers search