Thomas Jefferson Papers

Nathaniel S. Moorman to Thomas Jefferson, 29 July 1821

From Nathaniel S. Moorman

Charlottesville July 29th 1821


Nothing but imperious necessity could induce me to trouble you with my misfortunes, and the present unhappy situation, in which I am placed. It may not be improper, to give a brief recital, of the causes which compel me, to resort to the disagreeable alternative, four years ago I left this my native state, for Louisville Ky, and with the assistance of some acquaintances, procured an eligible situation, in a mercantile house, of some importance (Messrs Prather & Jacob) after continueing in this situation, twelve months: I concluded to enter in buisiness on my own account, which I effected with the little money I possessed, together with the credit of my father, who had gone thither dureing my infancy and married a second wife. I vended my small stock of goods at a handsome proffit, and received in payment the produce of the country (Pork) with1 which I loaded a boat And on the eighth day of Jany 1819 I started to N. Orleans at which placed I arrived on the 2nd of Feby, the immence quanty of that article taken to that place renders the article extremely low, unless there be a foreign demand, this was not the case, consequently the prices given would not justify my selling. it was thought advisable by Gentlemen in the mercantile line, at least several with whoom I transacted some buisiness, that I could do better by shiping it to Charleston S.C., this I did and arrived there on the 4th apl and found the article as dull as in N. Orleans, I had been at considerable expence and determined to sell, I was advised to store with I. C. Moses & co Jews commision merchants & Auctioneers, these Gentlemen advised me to wait a while as there was a probability of the price becoming better, this, I discoverd after some time to be extremely improbable and urged them to make sale, they always told me it was impossible to effect sales to any amt but would use evry exertion to dispose of it, finally the firm failed for a very considerable amount, we came to a settlement, when I discovered that the most of my Pork had been disposed of, and no possibility of getting my money, the remnant of the cargo I disposed of and determined to go home, but was taken ill and remained so a considerable length of time, so soon as I recovered I purchaced a pony, and set out I had the misfortune to loose my horse at Augusta Georgia, and was attacted by the Autumnal fever prevalent in that country, which nearly terminated my existence, when I had recovered I found my funds so nearly exausted, as to be unable to purchace a horse, I then started on foot, I met with some Virginians on the way, who informed that a Gentleman of my acquaintance who is oweing me some 2 or 3 hundred dollars, was in Richmond, in my situation such a sum would be very excepable I came on there but was unable to find him or hear of him. I there recd information that my father in my absence had moved down the river to the chickasaw bluffs Jacksons purchace where himself wife and two children died leaveing two little girls of a very tender age completely issolated from any human being who feels interested in their welfare and myself their natural protector unable to go to them. I am here on foot with out a cent of money without friends without trade or profession I cannot I will not beg neither will I resort to any dishonnorable method to extricate myself from this disagreeable dilemma. now sir under these2 circumstances I appeal to your generosity to advance me a sufficiency to enable me to get on to where I can get a water passage a small sum will be sufficient perhaps you have some Idea, I do not ask it as a gift no sir any sum your goodness may prompt you to advance me I pledge the word of a gentleman shall at no distant period be refunded in the name of humanity do not refuse me and add despair to my wretchedness. I will not submit this to an insulting multitude whose feelings are callous or where at least I should only receive the cold pitty of some if a tale of truth and misery have any claim on your generosity you can address a note to me at Davenports or the swan Tavern

I am an unfortunate being

Nal S. Moorman

P.S I shall wait your commands. I am the young man who called on you the other day


RC (MHi); at head of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received the day it was written and so recorded in SJL.

Nathaniel S. Moorman, merchant, was a native of Virginia. He may have been the student of that name from Campbell County who attended Hampden-Sydney College in 1815 (A. J. Morrison, College of Hampden Sidney Dictionary of Biography, 1776–1825 [(1921)], 199, 313).

The following day TJ recorded giving $10 to Moorman “in charity” (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1377).

1Manuscript: “with with.”

2Manuscript: “thesese.”

Index Entries

  • charity; requests to TJ for search
  • charity; TJ gives search
  • Charlottesville, Va.; taverns in search
  • Davenport, Jesse; Charlottesville tavern keeper search
  • fevers; seasonal search
  • I. C. Moses & Company (Charleston firm) search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Moorman, Nathaniel S. search
  • Moorman, Nathaniel S.; identified search
  • Moorman, Nathaniel S.; letter from search
  • Moorman, Nathaniel S.; requests assistance from TJ search
  • Moorman, Nathaniel S.; visits Monticello search
  • pork; price of search
  • Prather & Jacob (Louisville firm) search
  • Swan Tavern (Charlottesville) search
  • taverns; mail received at search