Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel Maverick to Thomas Jefferson, 11 August 1821

From Samuel Maverick

Montpelier Pendleton Dist: So: Carolina Augt 11. 1821—

Worthy Sir

for many years past I have been in the habit of Cultivating the Grape Vine & with various Sucess, owing to some cause or other they verry generally Rotted, and which has allmost allways happened Just at the moment as it were when they have attained their full Size, they then take a drab Coloured spot on One side which spreads in a few days over the Grape & has the appearance of being scalded & in that state they readiley part from the Vine, that is they are easiley shook of—, this phenonimon is most comon to the Large Dark purple or Black Grape, the White Chasilas & several other Kinds of Grape are infested with the same Brown spot, drys a way flatning on One side & the Bunches fall off—I have a Valuable Grape now in Bearing, which is said to have been Procured from you some years past it has made its appearance in this part of the Country, or Ruther I have Procured it, in two ways One from Col: Hawkins from the Creek Nation & in another from a Mr Booth   from Virginia, this has ripened well and is a good Bearer, I now have Inclosed two Leaves from that Vine in order that you may be better inabled to give me Information what Grape it is, and where Imported from, for several reasons One of which is to compair the similarity of Effect in perhaps differant Latitudes & for a further Importation of Vines, the Bunches on this Vine contain generally from 20 to 40 Grapes, and after attaining from ½ to ¾ Inch in Diameter, they turn Light Coloured, then gradually assume the Colour of Madarah wine or Light brick Colour, the Grape is nearly round—flattened a Little at the ends & ruther most at the Stem, the fruit is Verry Excelent, but Leaves a verry slight astringent tast in the skin

I am in Latitude 34.20 the Land Lays pleasantley Rolling, perhaps one of the Best watered Countrys in America, about 30 miles below the Table Mountain which forms part of the Great Chain running threw this Continant our soil is Various & in my perticular neighbourhood & farm we have a mixture of sand & Black Loom from 4 to 12 Inches on a Greasy Red Retentive Clay, on which I have tryed Various methods to Cultivate the Vine, on Arbours Aspilliers & frames 2½ foot high training them Horisontally, but I find to train them on Poles about 10 foot high, running them up in Single stems & Exposing them to the Sun & Air, Answers best with me & occasionally pulling off the Leaves, on a Gradual South Exposiour, I have Laid of Horisontal Beds 5 foot wide, with 10 foot space Between from which I have taken off all the Soil, I carted on Top Soil, Cow menure & sand on the Beds & Incorperated them with a portion of the Clay & soil from 2½ to 3 foot deep, & planted One Row of Vines about 6. to 8 foot apart on Each Bed, in this way alone I have been inabled to rase the Large Black Grape, which has allmost invariably rotted in every other way, the Only appology I have to offer for this Paper to you, is the Emence Importance to this Country in the Introduction of a New and Valuable Article of Comerce, as well as a most delisious and Agreable fruit, the Introduction of which may Perhaps Amelirate, the Awfull effects of Spiritual Liquor—I have in my Colection a Small Grape in Tolerable size Bunches say ¼ to ½lb in weight which Ripens well, verry sweet & delisious flavour,—Wild Grapes are plenty & Consist of the Large Black Muscadine Small thin Leaf groes on Rich Bottom Lands—Fox Grape Black, Red & White—the Summer Grape on high Land the Small winter Grape on Water Coarses & a New Kind I have Just discovered, but some what similar to the Summer Grape & I supose of that Kind, tho Bunches & Berrys Larger ripens well, if there is any thing in this way, which strikes your fancy, you will please to Order me to whom & where I shall send them by way of Charleston to you, to which place I will forward them by a waggon—I shall Consider it a great favour for any Information Relitive to the Grape Vine as to Soil, Menure Climate Exposier Prooning Kinds or any thing else, I once had the pleasure of speaking to you, on the Road, my Uncle Wm Turpin & myself met you in Passing threw Virginia on our way to Carolina about 13 years ago, since when he has settled himself at New Rotchell New York

are they not Various other plants that might be Introduced for the great Convenience & Cumfort of the Inhabitance of this wide Extended Country, even Tea & other Luxerys, to Sasiate the avorice of Comerce, or at Least to spair the Nessety of the Millions Yearly Expended in Protecting the Introduction of scarce articls which we might have in great Profusion at home, it appears to me that there is no Excuse Except to Keep up a nursery of seaman & follow the old plan of those nations of Europe differantly situated from us, they from Nessety have become Amphibious, but we are Land Animals, & will perhaps indanger our political Existance by following them too far into the water—

and am with much Respect

Saml Maverick

RC (CSmH: JF-BA); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 May 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in Maverick to TJ, 4 Mar. 1822.

Samuel Maverick (1772–1852), merchant and planter, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. After his father died, he became an apprentice in the mercantile firm of his uncle William Turpin, eventually joining him in the firm of Wadsworth, Turpin, & Maverick before commencing trade under his own name. At his plantations near Charleston, Maverick tried growing cotton, and he purchased an estate in South Carolina’s Pendleton District where he and his family first spent their summers and then moved permanently following his retirement from trade. Maverick experimented extensively with viticulture at his estate called Montpelier, and in 1828 he sought the assistance of President John Quincy Adams in obtaining grapevines and advice from abroad. He speculated in land in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and in 1850 he owned at least thirty-seven slaves and real estate valued at $50,000. In politics, he opposed Nullification. Following several years of poor health, Maverick died at Montpelier (Rena Maverick Green, ed., Samuel Maverick, Texan: 1803–1870. A Collection of Letters, Journals and Memoirs [1952]; Frederick C. Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio [1937], 278–81; The Encyclopedia of the New West [1881], 235–6; Thomas Pinney, A History of Wine in America: From the Beginnings to Prohibition [1989], 151; DNA: RG 29, CS, S.C., Charleston, 1800, 1830, Pendleton District, 1810, 1820, Sumter District, 1830, Anderson District, 1840, 1850, 1850 slave schedules; Charleston City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, 11 Nov. 1806, 23 June 1807; Charleston Strength of the People, 19 Apr. 1810; American Farmer 7 [1825]: 188; Maverick to Adams, 22 Jan. 1828 [MHi: Adams Papers]; Greenville [S.C.] Mountaineer, 22 Sept. 1832, 18 Jan. 1850; gravestone inscription in Maverick Family Cemetery, Anderson Co.).

In 1796 TJ had proposed sending Benjamin hawkins an Italian grape in his possession that he described as being “of a brick dust colour” and which he thought could be a Chasselas Doré (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 44 vols. description ends , 29:43).

Index Entries

  • agriculture; promotion of in U.S. search
  • agriculture; soil amendments search
  • alcohol; spirits search
  • Booth, Mr.; and grapes search
  • Creek Indians; agents to search
  • Europe; commerce of search
  • grapes; Chasselas Doré (Golden Chasselas) search
  • grapes; fox search
  • grapes; grown in S.C. search
  • grapes; muscadine search
  • grapes; native search
  • grapes; summer search
  • grapes; winter search
  • Hawkins, Benjamin; and grapes search
  • Indians, American; Creek search
  • Madeira (wine) search
  • Maverick, Samuel; and grapes search
  • Maverick, Samuel; identified search
  • Maverick, Samuel; letters from search
  • Maverick, Samuel; TJ meets search
  • South Carolina; grapes grown in search
  • taxes; on imports search
  • tea; grown in U.S. search
  • Turpin, William; TJ meets search
  • United States; agriculture promoted in search
  • wine; Madeira search