Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Peter Minor, 25 August 1816

To Peter Minor

Monticello Aug. 25. 16.

Dear Sir

The present state of things at the Shadwell mills & at the lock requiring some new order to be taken respecting them, I must request the favor of a meeting of the Directors of the Rivanna company; in order that what is necessary may be done in concert between us. the small proportion of business which has been done at the mills heretofore, rendered the stoppages which took place from time to time, and the constant waste of water by leakage, not so injurious as to make it necessary to call the attention of the Directors to them. but the quantity of wheat now coming & engaged makes the sacrifice heavier than can reasonably be expected. what requires to be now rectified will be better understood by stating what has past formerly.   the 1st proposition between us was that whenever the water requisite for the locks should occasion a stoppage of the mills, the time their operations were suspended should be paid for at such reasonable rate as should be agreed on. this seemed to be admitted as just, but was willingly abandoned by all, as likely to be troublesome & litigious from the difficulty of keeping a precise account of these fragments of time. the 2d and correct arrangement was that the bed of the bason, from which the vessels were to be recieved into the locks, should be so high above the bed of1 our forebay as that there should always be water enough to continue the mills in operation; so that the surplus water only should be abandoned to the locks. a constant head of 2. feet was deemed necessary. this surplus water, with the use of my canal was certainly the extent of what I ever contemplated as indulging to the locks, and this was the ground on which I believe we all considered the use of the locks ultimately & properly to stand. but mr Meriwether suggested a 3d expedient, which was to make so2 large a bason below the cut leading to the locks as to hold water enough to keep the mills going while a vessel was passing the locks. the trial of that was assented to, it has been partly made, has no sensible effect, and evidently no bason practicable there can ever have the effect proposed. the great increase of business at the mills requiring now more exactness of proceeding, I ask the favor of you to request a meeting of the Directors at their convenience, but I should hope it might be on some day of the present month, as on the 1st of the ensuing I go to Bedford, and shall be absent 6. or 8. weeks. I will attend any day or hour you will be so good as to notify me   I salute you with affectionate respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (ViU: TJP); at foot of text: “Peter Minor esq.”; endorsed by TJ. Tr (Junius R. Fishburne, Charlottesville, 1973; photocopy in ViU: TJP); in TJ’s hand; mutilated at folds; at head of text: “No 11.”; endorsed on verso in an unidentified hand: “Jefferson vs The Rivanna Co } Exhibits.” Enclosed in TJ’s Bill of Complaint against the Rivanna Company, printed below at 9 Feb. 1817, and in TJ to Chapman Johnson, 9 Feb. 1817.

1Preceding three words interlined.

2Word interlined in place of “a.”

Index Entries

  • canals; at Shadwell mills search
  • canals; in Va. search
  • canals; on Rivanna River search
  • Meriwether, William Douglas; and Rivanna River navigation search
  • Minor, Peter; and Rivanna Company search
  • Minor, Peter; letters to search
  • Rivanna Company; directors of search
  • Rivanna Company; TJ’s meetings with search
  • Rivanna River; canals on search
  • Shadwell mills; and Rivanna Company search
  • Shadwell mills; canal at search
  • Shadwell mills; flour mill at search
  • Virginia; canals in search
  • wheat; ground at Shadwell mills search