Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Chapman Johnson, 26 December 1816

To Chapman Johnson

Monticello Dec. 26. 16.

Dear Sir

You have heretofore known something of jarrings between the Rivanna company and myself. certain claims of right, equal, & even paramount to my own, which they set up to my canal, a work which has cost me 30,000.D. and which would render it’s value almost null to me, oblige me to bring a suit in chancery to quiet my title. I have prepared a bill, but cannot finish it until I can see an act of ass. of 1794. Dec. 22. no copy of which is to be found in this part of the country. as soon as ready, I will inclose you the bill, ask the favor of you to suggest any alterations in it, to inclose me a spa1 in Chancery against the proper defendants and to be my counsel in the case.

I think I have on some former occasion asked the favor of you to be my counsel in any case in which I may be concerned in any court in which you practice. If I am mistaken in this, I now make that request that in such cases, and without waiting for a particular application2 which accidents may retard, you will be so good as to appear & act for me as a thing of course. I pray you to accept assurances of my great esteem and high consideration

Th: Jefferson

P.S. Jan. 1. 17. the above is a copy of a letter addressed to you at Staunton at it’s date but recollecting that you may be at Richmond, I have thought it advisable to send a duplicate there. having found satisfactory evidence of the contents of the act of 1794. I have finished the bill. where shall I direct it to you, that after a perusal of it, you may decide as to the defs & the style of naming them.

PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of Joseph E. McIlhenney to TJ, 17 Sept. 1816; adjacent to signature and above postscript: “Chapman Johnson esq.”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 26 Dec. 1816 with a “P.S. Jan. 1. 17.”

TJ’s bill of complaint against the rivanna company will be printed below at 9 Feb. 1817, the date on which TJ sent it to Johnson in its finished form. The Virginia statute of 1794. dec. 22. was “An Act concerning the clearing of the North Fork of James River” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1794 sess.], 30–1).

1Abbreviation for “subpoena.”

2Manuscript: “applications.”

Index Entries

  • An Act concerning the clearing of the North Fork of James River (1794) search
  • canals; at Shadwell mills search
  • canals; on Rivanna River search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; bill of complaint inJefferson v. Rivanna Company search
  • Jefferson v. Rivanna Company; TJ’s bill of complaint in search
  • Jefferson v. Rivanna Company; TJ’s counsel in search
  • Johnson, Chapman; andJefferson v. Rivanna Company search
  • Johnson, Chapman; letters to search
  • Rivanna River; canals on search
  • Shadwell mills; canal at search