Thomas Jefferson Papers

Robert Mills to Thomas Jefferson, 28 August 1822

From Robert Mills

Columbia Augt 28. 1822

My dear Sir

Permit me to enclose you my pamphlet on the Internal Improvement of South Carolina, with the expression of the sincerest esteem and the highest respect for your exalted character.—Should your leisure at any time admit of your perusing it, I shall be gratified, and I trust that I shall have written nothing but what will meet with your approbation—If I shall appear to be too sanguine, attribute the warmth to the best of motives the love of country—The pamphlet was hastily written with the view to affording some general light to our citizens, but you will examine it with the eye of a friend.—

It is a source of much pleasure to me to learn of your continued health; may this blessing my dear Sir continue with you thro’ life, and the sincere prayer of my heart is that when it pleases God to call you from your useful labors here, he may call you to rest in the bosom of his love,—Mrs Mills joins me in this expression of respect & esteem.—

I salute you dear Sir affectionately

Robt Mills

PS.  I have been now nearly two years in the service of my native state. Should it not be too fatiguing to you will you favor us with a line?—

RC (DLC); addressed (trimmed): “[. . .] Jefferson Esqr Monticello [A]lbemarle County Virginia”; franked; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Sept. 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Mills, Internal Improvement of South-Carolina, Particularly Adapted to the Low Country (Columbia, 1822), asserting that the unhealthiness of the lower portion of the state restricts population growth and agricultural advancement; proposing “a general system of embanking, draining and reclaiming our river and swamp lands, rendering them fit for cultivation and capable of becoming the permanent residence of a white population” (p. 4); arguing that doing so will increase land values substantially, reduce disease and death rates, enhance riverine navigation, and lead to the “gradual decrease of the slave population, and a rapid increase of an industrious white population” (p. 10); contending that South Carolina can, out of the profits arising from its acquisition and reclamation of such lands, purchase six thousand or more slaves annually and resettle them in Africa; mentioning TJ’s unsuccessful negotiations as president with the Sierra Leone Company and, later, Portugal, to establish a colony for free blacks on that continent; quoting a passage critical of slavery from Query XVIII of TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia; and stating that gradual abolition will improve agriculture, increase wealth, promote morality, induce white settlers to migrate to the region, and “remove the stigma which has unjustly been attached to the Southern States on account of the existence of slavery amongst us” (p. 28).

Index Entries

  • Africa; and colonization search
  • African Americans; colonization of search
  • Internal Improvement of South-Carolina, Particularly Adapted to the Low Country (R. Mills) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; slavery search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Mills, Eliza Barnwell Smith (Robert Mills’s wife) search
  • Mills, Robert; and S.C. Board of Public Works search
  • Mills, Robert; and slavery search
  • Mills, Robert; and TJ’s health search
  • Mills, Robert; Internal Improvement of South-Carolina, Particularly Adapted to the Low Country search
  • Mills, Robert; letters from search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); and slavery search
  • Portugal; and colonization of African Americans search
  • Sierra Leone Company search
  • slavery; and colonization search
  • slavery; R. Mills on search
  • slavery; TJ on search
  • South Carolina; Board of Public Works search
  • South Carolina; internal improvements in search