Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Hugh Nelson, 12 March 1820

To Hugh Nelson

Monticello Mar. 12. 20.

I thank you, dear Sir, for the information in your favor of the 4th inst. of the settlement, for the present, of the Missouri question. I am so compleatly withdrawn from all attention to public matters, that nothing less could arouse me than the definition of a geographical line, which on an abstract principle is to become the line of separation of these states, and to render desperate the hope that man can ever enjoy the two blessings of peace & self-government. the question sleeps for the present, but is not dead.   this state is in a condition of unparalleled distress. the sudden reduction of the circulating medium from a plethory to all but annihilation is producing an entire revolution of fortune. in other places I have known lands sold by the sheriff for one year’s rent. beyond the mountain we hear of good slaves selling for 100.D. good horses for 5. Dollars, and the sheriffs generally the purchasers. our produce is now selling at market for1 one third of it’s price before this commercial catastrophe2 say flour at 3¼ & 3½ D. the barrel. we should have less right to expect relief from our legislators if they had not been the establishers of the unwise system of banks. a remedy to a certain degree was practicable, that of reducing the quantum of circulation gradually to a level with that of the countries with which we have commerce and an eternal abjuration of paper. but they have adjourned without doing any thing. I fear local insurrections against these horrible sacrifices of property. in every condition of trouble or tranquility be assured of my constant esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of a reused address cover from Archibald Stuart to TJ; torn at seal, with five words rewritten by TJ; at foot of text: “H. Nelson esq.”; endorsed by TJ. Not recorded in SJL.

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Remainder of sentence interlined, with superfluous period editorially omitted.

Index Entries

  • banks; currency issued by search
  • currency; amount of in circulation search
  • flour; price of search
  • horses; price of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; banks search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Missouri question search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; paper money search
  • Missouri question; TJ on search
  • Nelson, Hugh; and Missouri question search
  • Nelson, Hugh; letters to search
  • slaves; price of search
  • Virginia; economy of search