Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Appleton to Thomas Jefferson, 15 January 1820

From Thomas Appleton

Leghorn 15th January 1820—

Dear Sir

The last favor I receiv’d from you, was your billet of the 29th of June, covering the quadruplicate of exchange for 2362.50 francs, which, however, was So burnt, by the purification of Gibralter, or Spain, as to have intirely consum’d the name of the drawer; it was, fortunately, of no import, as the first had been already paid.—allow me to recommend, to Send your letters, either through London or Paris, as certain conveyances, and cheap; from Spain to Italy, the letters are Six weeks on the route, from London two weeks; and the postage by the former, is just four times greater than the latter.—madame mazzei, and madme Pini, are again, Somewhat importuning; for their patrimony is so precisely on a level with necessity, that the least delay deranges their plans of œconomy; besides, their expences have, of late increas’d, owing to the mother living seperate from her daughter, arising, I am told, from want of education on one side, and of fillial affection on the other.—

my last letter to you, Sir, was under date of the 10th of September, in which I mention’d my anxiety to learn if the two Raggis have prov’d competent to their undertaking; and if you approve their habits and manners.—I likewise, propos’d to furnish any marble work from Italy, which may be requir’d for the edifice you are now constructing; but particularly for the chimney-peices, as I presume, some1 hundreds will be requisite, which I could furnish, in vein’d marble, or blue marble, call’d “Bardillo,” in less time, & at a less price, than chimney-peices of common Stone, could be procur’d in the U: States.—this you will readily believe, when you are inform’d that Carrara lies within a mile of the quarries; and Sculptors for Such work, gain only about 30 cents per day.—

I now Send you, Sir, by a vessel bound to Petersburg Virginia, and through the obliging care of mr Fletcher, who goes passenger, a small bag of Bologna-hemp-seed.—about 18 months ago, I Sent Some to mr Crawford, who wrote me, he had distributed it among friends in Georgia; but I have not learnt the Success of the trial—It is so far superior to Russia-hemp, that when the latter sells at 30. Bologna sells at 50.—It is nearly double in length, much finer texture, and white.—the cordage made from it, is much more beautiful, & much Stronger, and will resist, at least, one third longer in Sea-water.—thus I have thought it would be a very valuable acquisition, if its culture can be introduc’d into the U. States; and I know no hands, Sir, who will appreciate it, and disseminate it more judiciously than your’s.—The Lupinella-grass, I have widely distributed; and mr Crawford writes me, it greatly flourish’d in Georgia, in a Season when all other grass had greatly suffer’d.—The tuscan-Gentilli white wheat, is so far superior, to that of any other part of Italy, or of Europe, or Africa, that it always commands 20 ⅌Ct more in price, than the finest of any other country.—not so much from its weight, it weighing only 68 the bushell, but from its size, whiteness, and uncommon savoury taste when work’d into bread.—Some of this wheat I Sent to mr Crawford, as I have likewise, to friends in Pensyla & n York.—now, after having so extoll’d our wheat, I cannot resist the tempt[a]tion to make a trial of its Success at Monticelli; I have therefore, avail’d myself of the politeness of mr Fletcher, to hand you likewise, a small bag of the white Gentilli.—I Sent to mr Crawford some flax-Seed of Cremona, which is So far Superior to all other flax, that it invariably Sells for double the price of that of every other part of Europe.—we have in Tuscany a Species of grain, call’d, in the language of the country, “Saggina”—it is similar in appearance, to what you term “Broom-corn.”—it makes a bread as dark colour’d as rye alone, if my memory is correct; but is uncommonly nutricious, and our peasants say, it supports them longer under Severe fatigue, than any other—it will grow almost on any soil, and very abundantly.—our turkey-corn, I think is superior to that of the northern States of America,—and in the roman territory, is produc’d a barley, superior to any other we know of.—

Command my services, Sir, whenever I can be of use to yourself, or to my dear country from which, it is probable, I shall be forever Seperated; and believe me with the Sincerest Sentiments of esteem & respect.

Your devoted Servant

Th: Appleton

RC (DLC); edge chipped; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, Esquire”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 May 1820 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 84, CRL); in Appleton’s hand.

For TJ’s billet of the 29th of june, see note to Daniel Brent to TJ, 4 July 1819. The bill of exchange that TJ enclosed there likely underwent purification or fumigation due to an outbreak of yellow fever in Spain in the autumn of 1819 (Peter Baldwin, Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830–1930 [1999], 45, 91–2). bardillo: Bardiglio. saggina and broom-corn are respectively the Italian and American names for local varieties of sorghum (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 ; Carleton R. Ball, The History and Distribution of Sorghum [1910], 7–8, 32, 36). turkey-corn: Indian corn or maize (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 ).

1FC: “several.”

Index Entries

  • Appleton, Thomas; and P. Mazzei’s estate search
  • Appleton, Thomas; and seeds for TJ search
  • Appleton, Thomas; and stonecutters for Central College–University of Virginia search
  • Appleton, Thomas; letters from search
  • barley; Italian search
  • building materials; marble search
  • Carrara marble search
  • corn; Indian search
  • Crawford, William Harris; seeds sent to search
  • flax; seeds search
  • Fletcher, Mr.; and package for TJ search
  • hemp; Bologna search
  • hemp; Russian search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; debt to P. Mazzei search
  • marble; Bardiglio search
  • marble; Carrara search
  • Mazzei, Antonia Antoni (Philip Mazzei’s second wife); and P. Mazzei’s estate search
  • Pini, Elisabetta Mazzei (Philip Mazzei’s daughter; Andrea Pini’s wife); and P. Mazzei’s estate search
  • public health; fumigation of foreign correspondence search
  • Raggi, Giacomo; as stonecutter for University of Virginia search
  • Raggi, Michele; as stonecutter for University of Virginia search
  • sainfoin search
  • seeds; flax search
  • seeds; hemp search
  • seeds; sainfoin search
  • seeds; sent to TJ search
  • seeds; wheat search
  • sorghum search
  • Spain; yellow fever in search
  • Tuscany, Italy; wheat from search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; marble for search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; stonecutters for search
  • wheat; Tuscan white gentil search
  • yellow fever; in Spain search