Thomas Jefferson Papers

Wilson Cary Nicholas to Thomas Jefferson, 13 March 1819

From Wilson Cary Nicholas

Richmond March 13. 1819

My Dear Sir

I have not been able to see Mr Brockenborough, but expect Mr Garret, will carry you a communication from him. I am very anxious you shou’d get him on every account, but particularly on your account. If you have not such a man your trouble will be endless, and after all I fear even if you go there every day, the work will not be done in a manner satisfactory to you, & I fear too at a greater cost than if you had a good Proctor. The sum you have to expend is not large enough to enable you to give the compensation a competent man wou’d require, one who is not so, wou’d only increase your trouble. A common carpenter or a good overseer, wou’d expect $500 & to be found, per annum. You can only obtain a fit man by giving him a part of the work, the carpenters work may be contracted for in so particular a manner, (particularly with a man of character) as to make very little superintendence necessary, every part of the work will speak for itself. Mr B.1 is not a common workman, I understand he is a compleat architect. His brother the Doctor, who has both experience & taste, tells me he is master of all the different orders of Architecture. I hope you will pardon my earnestness upon this subject, it proceeds entirely from My desire to save you trouble. The price of work has fallen at least twenty five or thirty2 three per Cent & lumber in even a greater proportion. In this town & I believe in every other there, is a total suspension of every thing like building, & this must continue to be the case, as long as the present state of things continues. A man who can pay may have work done upon his own terms, the builders must all go to the country for subsistance. I have no doubt you can get work cheaper done, than by the standard you3 refer to, the philadelphia prices at any period for the last twenty years. If I wanted to build I shou’d not doubt being able to have it done here in the course of this summer at less than $10 per thousand for brick work.

I am Dear Sir most respectfully

Your affectionate friend

W. C. Nicholas

RC (ViU: TJP); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Mar. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

1In attempting to cancel “I understand,” Nicholas here neglected to strike out the “I.”

2Manuscript: “thirty thirty.”

3Manuscript: “you you.”

Index Entries

  • Brockenbrough, Arthur Spicer; recommended to TJ search
  • Brockenbrough, John; recommends A. S. Brockenbrough search
  • building materials; lumber search
  • Garrett, Alexander; and A. S. Brockenbrough search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • lumber; price of search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and A. S. Brockenbrough search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters from search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Philadelphia; builders’ prices in search
  • Richmond, Va.; builders’ prices in search
  • Richmond, Va.; economy of search
  • United States; Panic of1819 search
  • Virginia, University of; Administration and Financial Affairs; proctor of search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; carpenters and joiners for search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; wages for workmen search