Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Caldwell to Thomas Jefferson, 26 July 1819

From Joseph Caldwell

Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia, July 26th 1819.

Immortal Sir,

It is with the pleasure of hope that I presume to address you on a subject of very little account to you, but to me a matter of considerable concern; I am sir, the youngest son of a revolutionary soldier, who though poor disdains to take advantage of the liberality of his country; I have been trying to get into some situation that would be of advantage to myself and country but to little purpose for several years, I am by profession a Printer and being informed that there is a very good situation for a Printer in the town of Charlottesvills in your neighborhood I petition you to assist and oblige me in the following manner to procure for me a Press and the following Type1 Viz 300lb Long Primer 150 small Pica and 100lb Pica with 100lb of double Pica a small font of Previer and about 100lbs of flowers and other kinds of Type all will cost something less than one thousand dollars and lesst you might think I wish to take advantage of your generous liberality you can hold the establishment2 in your own hands until you are convinced of my capability, honesty, and industry,

I am sir a Republican, but not one that can hold my Country’s Constitution in one hand, and a cow-skin in the other ready to scourge my fellow man;

I propose sir that you keep possession of the establishment and the profits arissing therefrom until you are paid for your generous assistance. And beleive me when I say whether you do it or not that you shall always have the prayers and good wishes of

Joseph Caldwell Jr.

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 9 Aug. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Patrick Gibson, 11 Aug. 1819, on recto and verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq. Monticello, Virginia”; address partially canceled and redirected in an unidentified hand to “Poplar Forest Bedford”; stamp canceled; franked; postmarked Warrenton, 30 July, and Charlottesville, 8 Aug.

Joseph F. Caldwell (1796–1878), printer and dentist, was a native of Frederick County, where he held apprenticeships with a carpenter and cabinetmakers. In 1817 he moved to Warrenton to work for his brother as a newspaper printer. Caldwell then set up on his own as publisher of the Winchester Virginia Reformer in 1819, the Fincastle Herald of the Valley, 1820–23, and the Lewisburg (later in West Virginia) Palladium of Virginia, 1823–31. From 1821–23 he was also a postmaster in Botetourt County. In 1834 Caldwell began practicing dentistry in Greenbrier County (later in West Virginia), and he went on to practice in Maysville, Kentucky; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia, where he lived from at least 1838 until about 1849. In 1850 Caldwell owned Greenbrier real estate valued at $9,080, and in 1870 his real and personal property were worth $22,000. He died in Greenbrier (Caldwell’s memoir [photocopy of MS in ViHi]; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1113, 1167–8; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 24; Philadelphia Atkinson’s Saturday Evening Post, 28 July 1838; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 24 Jan. 1848, 2 May 1856; McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1849 [1849], 51; Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette, 27 Dec. 1852; DNA: RG 29, CS, W.Va., Greenbrier Co., 1850, Lewisburg, 1860, 1870; Greenbrier Co. Death Register [Wv-Ar]).

long primer, small pica, double pica, and brevier (previer) are different sizes of type, while flowers are printers’ ornamental devices and cow-skin is “a whip of raw hide” (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 ).

1Manuscript: “Piype.”

2Manuscript: “establisment.”

Index Entries

  • Caldwell, Joseph; family of search
  • Caldwell, Joseph F.; as printer search
  • Caldwell, Joseph F.; identified search
  • Caldwell, Joseph F.; letter from search
  • Charlottesville, Va.; printing office proposed for search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business and Financial Affairs; loans requested from search
  • machines; printing presses search
  • printing; movable type search
  • printing; presses search