Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Barnes, 23 February 1814

To John Barnes

Monticello Feb. 23. 14.

Dear Sir

I have duly recieved and weighed your favors of the 9th and 11th. nobody would be farther from wishing a sudden crush to the banks than my self. that they are multiplied to a great abuse and evil is evident; and their reduction by degrees would be the safest for the public, and might save us if our legislatures were wise. but it is their folly which is hurrying us to the precipice, by the increase of these establishmts until they all fall together. it is this which convinces me they must fall and no one can say when it will happen. Manhattan is leading the way. that was one of our great banks; yet see how little cash they had in their vaults. why should we suppose any other better provided. I do not believe they are, and no one can say that this first alarm may not be immediately renewed with a 2d a 3d Etc till all go. under these circumstances we should be unfaithful stewards to leave the worthy Kosciusko in danger of wanting bread. it would be the less justifiable too because with greater security the government will offer greater advantages. I cannot therefore resist the sense of duty imposed on us, & must pray you to take immediate measures to sell out the General’s stock in bank, and place it in the new government loan. perhaps the treasury would recieve the General’s bank stock as cash in exchange for their new stock. I understand that a bonus of 10. or 12. per cent is expected which will add so much to the General’s capital. every bank which cracks will give me great alarm until we are out of them. I shall be glad to learn your prospects in this business by a line when you begin to see your way thro’ it. affectionately


Th: Jefferson

RC (Wayne M. Hart, East Orange, N.J., 1950; photostat at ViU: TJP); addressed: “Mr John Barnes Georgetown Col.”; franked; postmarked Milton, 24 Feb. PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.

Early in 1814 Boston’s New England Bank withdrew more than $150,000 in specie from its New York counterparts in an attempt to prevent them from subscribing to a government loan. As a result the Bank of the manhattan Company stopped discounting bills of exchange (Boston Gazette, 24 Jan. 1814; William Jay to John Jay, 10 Feb. 1814 [NNC: Jay Papers]; Stagg, Madison’s War description begins John C. A. Stagg, Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783–1830, 1983 description ends , 376–7).

Index Entries

  • Bank of Pennsylvania; stock owned by T. Kosciuszko search
  • Bank of the Manhattan Company; distressed situation of search
  • banks; distressed situation of search
  • banks; TJ on search
  • Barnes, John; and T. Kosciuszko’s American investments search
  • Barnes, John; letters to search
  • Congress, U.S.; loans contracted by search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and T. Kosciuszko’s American investments search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; banks search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; Bank of Pennsylvania stock of search
  • New England Bank; withdraws specie from other banks search