Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Caruthers to Thomas Jefferson, 2 June 1817

From William Caruthers

Lexington 2nd June 1817


Patrick Henry a free Man of Coular requested me to Write You that he Will Rent What land is Cultivatable On the Bridge Tract—Which is perhaps about 10 Acres all of Which is to Clear off & Enclose & for Which he is Willing to pay a fair Value—

Patrick is a Man of Good Behavior and as the Neighbours are Destroying Your Timber Verry much it Might not be Amiss to Authorise him—to Take care of it in Order to Which it Might be Well to have the lines Run by the Surveyor of the County

Accept My Best Respects

Wm Caruthers

RC (MHi); addressed (trimmed): “[. . .] J[e]fferson Esqr Monticello Milton PO”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 June 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

Patrick Henry (d. 1829) purchased his freedom in 1811 in Westmoreland County. He bought his enslaved wife from a resident of Lexington in 1815 and freed her the following year. By then Henry was living in Rockbridge County, where for a time he was employed by TJ’s Natural Bridge tenant Philip Thornton. In 1817 Henry entered into an agreement with TJ to rent and farm the latter’s land at Natural Bridge in return for paying the annual taxes on the property. He lived near the bridge itself, acted as a guide for visitors to it, and looked after TJ’s interests there generally (Marie Tyler-McGraw, An African Republic: Black & White Virginians in the Making of Liberia [2007], 146; Westmoreland Co. Deeds and Wills, 22:217; Vi: RG 48, Personal Property Tax Returns, Rockbridge Co., 1816–23, 1825, 1827–29; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1337, 1380; Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph [Trist], 30 Aug. 1817, document 4 in a group of documents on Jefferson’s Trip to Natural Bridge, [ca. 13–17 Aug. 1817]; TJ to Philip Thornton, 10 Mar. 1818; DNA: RG 29, CS, Rockbridge Co., 1820, 1830; Rockbridge Co. Will Book, 4:191–2, 6:340–1).

Index Entries

  • African Americans; as TJ’s tenants search
  • Caruthers, William; and Natural Bridge search
  • Caruthers, William; introduces P. Henry search
  • Caruthers, William; letters from search
  • Henry, Patrick (of Rockbridge Co.); as tenant at Natural Bridge search
  • Henry, Patrick (of Rockbridge Co.); identified search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and lease of Natural Bridge search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; lease of search