Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Richard M. Johnson, 29 January 1813

To Richard M. Johnson

Monticello Jan. 29. 13.

Dear Sir

A letter which I wrote you on the 26th inst. at the request of mr James McKinney of this neighborhood, and transmitted thro’ him, requires that what I could not, without offence, say in that should be added in this. every thing was true which was said in that but all there said does not qualify him for military command. for subordinate employment in the Commissary’s or Quartermaster’s department I should think him well fitted inasmuch as that would be analogous to his former pursuits, to his habits and manners, all of which would associate him with that rather than with the military class of the army. this is the common opinion of his neighbors, which I think it a duty to express, lest your kind dispositions towards myself should give greater weight to the application than the subject of it would1 justify.

We are all loyal here as to the war. all (a few federalists excepted) think it could not have been declined longer with either honor or advantage. but to continue it’s popularity you must admit free exportations. war taxes and a suppression of exports would be to call for bricks without allowing straw. no people can stand that. Gr. Britain it seems is to send us 10. ships of the line, 15 frigates & 20. gun brigs. these will employ 15,000 seamen at 5 guineas a week each (every thing included) which will add 4. millions a year to her expences, and the sooner bring on that crush of her paper, which alone will give peace to2 the world. when her navy shall be reduced to what shall be commensurate with her annual revenue in hard money, it will be what we ought to wish it to continue to be. we shall then stand on the intervening element in our just proportion with her. with ardent wishes for success to all your exertions, accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “The honble Rh. M. Johnson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 27 Jan. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ’s biblical reference to bricks without allowing straw is to Exodus, 5.6–18.

At this time Elizabeth Trist observed of McKinney and his partnership with Thomas Mann Randolph in the Shadwell Mill that “great expectations were form’d of his skill and management … but alas, he has proved as worthless as the former Occupants and Mr R has lost a great sum by the connection they have got rid of him but the Credit of the Mill has sufferd as well as the building and works and I fear it will increase Mr R embarrassments which I am very sorry for a Man of his industry and goodness of heart deserves better fortune” (Trist to Catharine Wistar Bache, 1 Feb. 1813 [PPAmP: Bache Papers]).

1TJ here canceled “authorise.”

2Reworked from “in.”

Index Entries

  • Bible; Exodus referenced by TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; British navy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; war with Great Britain search
  • Johnson, Richard Mentor; and army position for J. McKinney search
  • Johnson, Richard Mentor; letters to search
  • McKinney, James; and Shadwell mills search
  • McKinney, James; seeks army appointment search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and Shadwell mills search
  • Shadwell mills; and T. M. Randolph search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on T. M. Randolph search
  • War of1812; support for search