Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William Jones, 7 October 1817

To William Jones

Monticello Oct. 7. 17.

Dear Sir

I recieve information that the citizens of Lynchburg on James river are applying to the bank of the US in Philadelphia for the establishment of a branch of that institution in their town, and I am requested on their part to state to the President and Directors what I know of the basis and extent of their commerce. the bearing witness to truth being a common duty, & my residence a considerable part of the year at a possession a few miles from the town having given me some familiarity with it, I proceed to comply with their request.   Lynchburg is considered as at the head of the navigation of James river. light loads indeed are brought from above the mountain, but very frequently deposited at Lynchburg to be put into larger craft. most of the produce of Virginia and N. Carolina, Southward of Lynchburg & Westward of it’s meridian, and much Northward and Eastward of that meridian is brought to that place to be sold and waterborne to Richmond. the produce in tobacco and flour, exclusive of hemp, iron & other articles, brought to that place the last year, amounted to 3,300,000.D and the town is growing more rapidly than any one I have ever known in any country. I have no information of the number of houses built every year; but judging by my eye, I think they must increase at the rate of 10. or 15. percent annually; and, if not already, it very shortly will be the 2d town in the state, as to the quantum of business done, inferior only to Richmond, with which it’s principal commercial relations are. how far these circumstances may produce a confidence, & entitle it to the benefit of an association with your institution, the President & Directors are alone competent to decide. to all that quarter of our country it would be a great gratification, as I confess it will to me, as far as I can permit myself to view an object of desire, independently of the motives which ought govern it’s decision.   while it is a pleasure to be the advocate of an industrious, thriving1 and enterprising body of citizens it is the greater as it furnishes me the occasion of addressing you personally, of recalling myself to your recollection, and of assuring you of my constant and friendly esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on portion of reused address cover to TJ; at foot of first page: “Capt William Jones”; endorsed by TJ. Dupl, not found, enclosed in TJ to Samuel J. Harrison, 7 Oct. 1817.

William Jones (ca. 1761–1831), merchant and public official, was born in Philadelphia. He participated in the Revolutionary War battles of Trenton and Princeton, 1776–77, followed by service as a lieutenant in a privateer during the latter years of the conflict. Early in the 1790s Jones operated a mercantile business in Charleston, South Carolina, before settling in Philadelphia in the same capacity. He served in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican, 1801–03. TJ appointed Jones secretary of the navy in 1801, but he declined the position. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1805. Jones accepted President James Madison’s appointment as secretary of the navy early in 1813 and served until his resignation late the following year. For much of this period he was also acting treasury secretary. In 1816 Jones was chosen as the first president of the Second Bank of the United States, but he was removed in 1819 for mismanagement that contributed to the financial panic of that year. Afterwards he prospered as a merchant in Philadelphia. Jones was collector of the port of Philadelphia, 1827–29. He died in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, while attempting to flee a Philadelphia fever epidemic (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Edward K. Eckert, “William Jones: Mr. Madison’s Secretary of the Navy,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 96 [1972]: 167–82; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 41 vols. description ends , 33:351–2, 416, 34:123–4, 150; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 18 Jan. 1805 [MS in PPAmP]; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:315, 595, 3:47, 48, 170, 554, 558–9 [8, 12 Jan. 1813, 16 Dec. 1814, 23, 26 Apr. 1816, 26 Jan. 1819, 3, 15 Jan. 1827]; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 5:312 [3 June 1813]; ASP, Finance, 3:412–4; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 8 Sept. 1831).

1Word interlined in place of “thrifty.”

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States, Second; proposed Lynchburg branch search
  • banks; in Va. search
  • boats; transfer goods and people to and from Richmond search
  • crops; hemp search
  • flour; in Lynchburg market search
  • hemp; as cash crop search
  • iron; mentioned search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Lynchburg search
  • Jones, William (ca.1761–1831); as president of Second Bank of the United States search
  • Jones, William (ca.1761–1831); identified search
  • Jones, William (ca.1761–1831); letters to search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; bank in proposed search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; economy of search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; flour market at search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; TJ on search
  • Lynchburg, Va.; tobacco prices at search
  • Richmond, Va.; boats transfer goods and people to and from search
  • tobacco; in Lynchburg market search
  • Virginia; banks in search