Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter Minor to Thomas Jefferson, 17 September 1811

From Peter Minor

Ridgway Sept 17. 1811

Dr Sir

I have taken the liberty of sending You the enclosed “Projet of a Law to encourage the raising of Sheep” in the hope that you will lend your attention to the Subject, improve upon, or modify the Scheme, & assist us in trying to obtain its passage by the next legislature. The principal features I have taken from the Pennsylvania Dog Law, as it is mentioned by Judge Peters in the Memoirs of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society—I have subjoined some calculations, which I think will not be found extravagant.

Since the introduction of the Merino & other valuable breeds of Sheep, I think it particularly behoves us to guard against their destruction by dogs. But Independent of their propensity to destroy Sheep, why should we not endeavour to diminish a race of Animals, which to make the best of them, are a nuisance, but when considered in a state of madness are certainly as great a curse as can visit us?

Yrs with the highest respect & Esteem

P. Minor.

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 18 Sept. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

The projet (project) was probably an early version of the Petition of Albemarle County Residents to the Virginia General Assembly, [before 19 Dec. 1811], which Minor and TJ both signed. In relaying information about a canine attack on his flock, Richard peters complained that the “flagitious sagacity of dogs is almost incredible, when they are addicted to sheep-killing. They often kill both in the day and night; but more commonly in the grey of the morning, as do the human savages of our wilderness. Of this vice, when it is once fixed, they are never cured while living: death is the only effectual remedy” (Peters, “On Sheep-killing Dogs,” Memoirs of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture 2 [1811]: 247–53). Peters also hailed Pennsylvania’s 1809 dog law, a version of which was enclosed in James Ronaldson to TJ, 20 Mar. 1809.

Index Entries

  • agriculture; Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture search
  • Albemarle County, Va.; and dogs search
  • dogs; proposed taxation of search
  • Memoirs of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture search
  • merino sheep; and dogs search
  • Minor, Peter; and dogs search
  • Minor, Peter; letters from search
  • Pennsylvania; statute taxing dogs search
  • Peters, Richard; On Sheep-killing Dogs search
  • Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture; Memoirs search
  • sheep; and dogs search
  • taxes; on dogs search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search