Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Maury to Thomas Jefferson, 8 March 1821

From William Maury

New Orleans 8 March 1821

Dear Sir

I have reproached myself much for not having ere this, thanked you for the letters of introduction you were so good as to give me to Kentucky thro my Cousin Tom Maury.—

With Dr Brown I was highly pleased, as every one must be with a polite Gentleman, & tho not of mine I found him an acquaintance of my Fathers as far back as 1795—   he took me to the University & other public Institutions in Lexington, & tho it is, as we should say in England, in the Wild Woods, I think I never saw more public spirit evinced for the encouragement of Science & literature;—with the Society I was also delighted, & with the Hospitality of the State generally, tho their manners were not quite so polished as in the Atlantic States—

In Frankfort I only remained a couple of days where I handed your other letter to Mr Jno1 Brown who was also very attentive to me—

There I attended the first legislative Body I had seen in this Country; it was at an unfortunate moment tho, for it being Christmas Day, they had most of them taken their bowl of Egg Knogg—of course therefore I shall not insert that in my journal as a specimen of the State Assemblies—

At Louisville I found the prospects for pursuing my journey on Horse back so very bad as to Roads & Weather that I took passage on board a Steam Boat; the depth, the navigation & the majestic grandeur of the Mississippi surprized me: of its great Trade I had no idea, that is, as to the variety of articles brought to this market. I cannot say that with the Society of New Orleans I have been much pleased however the reason is I do not speak French tho I understand it as well almost as English

The American population is however beginning to predominate, & with that they are commencing the grand work of its improvement; In the fall they commence paving the City, which must greatly contribute to its health, other improvements following. I think the day is not fa[r] distant when it will vie with all the former opulence & splendor of Alexandria

There are now 80 Steam Boats navigating the Western Waters. they have been like most other branches of Trade, overdone, & many would now wish, not to sell, but give out their shares—to give you some idea, a bale of Cotton weighg 400 is brought from Natchez 320 miles for half a dollar!

Amongst the Planters the only money is made, they, getting 12 a 18 cents for their Cotton which in Europe will nett 11 a 17!—they nevertheless complain, tho upon enquiry, they say they would cultivate it for even 8 cents in preference to any thing else,   I think therefore the United States need not on that point feel jealous of the East Indies.—

The Owners of Western Produce fare badly—   Flour $2.50 Corn 30 cent, lard 8 & Tobacco 2½ a 4½.—

I expect to leave this the beginning of next month & by the month of May to have the pleasure of renewing to you the esteem with which

I have the honor to be Your obedient servant

William Maury

RC (DLC); one word faint; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Apr. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Bernard Peyton, 16 Aug. 1822, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monte Cello Albemarle County Virginia”; stamped; postmarked (faint) New Orleans, 1[1] Mar.

Transylvania university was located in Lexington, Kentucky.

1Manuscript: “Jas.”

Index Entries

  • alcohol; eggnog search
  • boats; steamboats search
  • Brown, John (1757–1837); TJ introduces W. Maury to search
  • Brown, Samuel; TJ introduces W. Maury to search
  • Christmas; and alcohol consumption search
  • corn; price of search
  • cotton; price of search
  • eggnog search
  • flour; price of search
  • horses; riding of search
  • Kentucky; descriptions of search
  • Kentucky; legislature of search
  • lard; price of search
  • Maury, James (1746–1840); family of search
  • Maury, Thomas Walker; requests letters of introduction search
  • Maury, William; letters from search
  • Maury, William; travels of search
  • Mississippi River; and steamboats search
  • Natchez, Miss.; economy of search
  • New Orleans; descriptions of search
  • New Orleans; economic conditions in search
  • schools and colleges; Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.) search
  • tobacco; price of search
  • Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.); described search