Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 26 October 1817

To John Wayles Eppes

Monticello Oct. 26. 17

Dear Sir

I have procured from Leschot for mrs Eppes a very elegant watc[h]1 and of the very best construction being of the kind called à cylindre horizontal;2 the only inconvenience of which is that they require being touched with oil a little oftener than the others. he had no watch of the common construction which was proper for a lady. he required 40.D. boot, allowing only 30.D. for the gold of the old watch, the works being entirely past use. I hope you will never put her into any hands but his when she wants any thing. I know that the Richmond watchmakers are as absolute murderers of a watch as your neighbor watchmaker. I pass Major Flood’s 8. times a year, & you can see him every Buckingham court, so that thro’ him you can send and recieve your watches with little delay; and even long delay is better than to have a watch spoiled.

You ask if nothing can be done to place our militia on an effectual footing? I know nothing more supremely wise than the plan prepared by Monroe and reported to Congress3 by him. this classified the militia, and in time of war4 assessed on them by certain divisions to keep a man constantly in the field, and it is in time of peace that such a law should be passed. then their minds would have been long prepared for it when occasion should arise to put it in execution. but I fear this army & navy fever, & especially the latter is a disease which must take it’s course & wear itself out. I doubt the possibility of resisting it. yet I had thought the difficulty of getting money last war would have taught us to avoid extravagance in peace, pay our debts and clear our revenues of interest that they might be free to the expences of war. however, dear Sir, I retire from all medling, & leave chearfully the public management to those who are to live under it, & I have no doubt it will be as wise under the present as the last generation; and I salute mrs Eppes & yourself with affectionate friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “The honble John W. Eppes Mill-brook.” PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ; with unrelated writing in at least one unidentified hand on recto and verso.

A “montre à cylindre,” or horizontal watch, has an escapement “in which the impulse is given by the teeth of a horizontal wheel acting on a hollow cylinder on the axis of the balance” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). For James Monroe’s plan for the military, see notes to John H. Cocke to TJ, 6 Nov. 1814, and TJ to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 3 July 1815.

A missing letter from Eppes to TJ of 18 Oct. 1817 is recorded in SJL as received from “Buckingham” the day after it was written.

1Word cut off at margin in both RC and PoC.

2Word interlined.

3TJ here canceled “either.”

4TJ here canceled “required.”

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; expansion of search
  • Buckingham County, Va.; Flood’s ordinary search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); as U.S. senator search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); letters from accounted for search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); letters to search
  • Eppes, Martha Burke Jones (John Wayles Eppes’s second wife); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Eppes, Martha Burke Jones (John Wayles Eppes’s second wife); watch of search
  • Flood’s ordinary (Buckingham Co.; proprietor Henry Flood) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; entering current political debates search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; militia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; U.S. Navy search
  • Leschot, Louis A.; as watchmaker search
  • military; expansion of search
  • militia; TJ on search
  • Monroe, James; on expansion of U.S. military search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; TJ on search
  • Richmond, Va.; watchmakers in search
  • watches; gold search
  • watches; M. B. Eppes’s search