Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Philip P. Barbour, 12 October 1812

To Philip P. Barbour

Monticello Oct. 12. 12.

Dear Sir

I should at all times be happy to see you here, but at this moment have a particular occasion to ask that favor of you. the Rivanna company, engaged in clearing the river from Moore’s ford to Milton, have called a meeting with a view to petition the next legislature to enlarge their powers; that is to say their powers over my property, for it is over that of no other human being. the laws under which they act now give them all necessary powers with my consent which has been yielded to them in every point liberally. what more is meant to be asked in controul of my consent I do not know; but I have a property in mills which has cost me 30. thousand dollars, at stake. the favor I ask of you is as a member of the legislature, to come and take a ride of 3. or 4. miles, to see the ground and the works, and enable yourself to be a witness to the General assembly as to the facts, and a judge as to what is right; for I ask nothing beyond that. if you will do me the favor to come some evening while the court sets, we can take the ride in the morning before breakfast: or if it suits you better to take it on your return home, I will attend you at any hour you will be so good as to call. if the localities are understood by the legislature, there is nothing which they can think right to which I am disposed to make the least objection. in being the means therefore of doing me barely justice, you will lay me under great obligations. Accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Philip Barber esquire”; endorsed by TJ.

Philip Pendleton Barbour (1783–1841), attorney and public official, briefly studied law under St. George Tucker at the College of William and Mary. He practiced law for a short time in Kentucky and from 1802 in his native Orange County. From 1812–14 he represented that county in the Virginia House of Delegates, beginning shortly after his brother James Barbour was elected governor of Virginia. Barbour was appointed a major of the 3d Virginia Regiment in 1813. He sat in the United States House of Representatives, 1814–25 and 1827–30, including service as Speaker, 1821–23. Unlike his brother, Barbour became a states’ rights Republican who opposed the Bank of the United States, federally funded internal improvements, and high tariffs. He received a state appointment as judge of the General Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving 1825–27. Barbour sat in and later became president of a state constitutional convention, 1829–30, where he opposed democratic reforms. He was a supporter of Andrew Jackson’s presidential election, and in 1830 the latter appointed Barbour justice of the United States District Court for Eastern Virginia. In 1836 Jackson made him a justice of the United States Supreme Court, a post he held until his death. Barbour was a founder of the Agricultural Society of Albemarle in 1817 and remained a member until 1825. In 1821 he engaged master brickmason and carpenter John M. Perry, who had worked at Monticello, to build Frescati, his Orange County home that incorporated bricklaying features also found at the University of Virginia. TJ relied on Barbour’s legal services on several occasions during his retirement (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ; ViHi: Barbour Family Papers [including 3 May 1813 military commission and Nov. 1821 agreement with Perry]; William and Mary Provisional List description begins A Provisional List of Alumni, Grammar School Students, Members of the Faculty, and Members of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. From 1693 to 1888 [1941] description ends , 6; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 271, 275, 353; True, “Agricultural Society,” description begins Rodney H. True, “Minute Book of the Agricultural Society of Albemarle,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1918 (1921), 1:261–349 description ends 263, 269, 298, 310; TJ to Barbour, 12 Oct. 1823; Orange Co. Will Book, 9:183–4; Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser, 2 Mar. 1841).

A missing letter from TJ to Barbour of 6 July 1812 is recorded in SJL.

Index Entries

  • Barbour, James; family of search
  • Barbour, Philip Pendleton; and Rivanna Company search
  • Barbour, Philip Pendleton; identified search
  • Barbour, Philip Pendleton; letters to search
  • Barbour, Philip Pendleton; letters to accounted for search
  • Moore’s Ford (Albemarle Co.) search
  • Rivanna Company; petition to General Assembly search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search