Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Richard Young, 11 May 1820

Richmond may the 11th 1820


I hope you will indulge the freedom of a Stranger who has no other motive than is natural to an inquisitive immagination in thus trespassing on your valuable time, I notice in your Seventh Querry of your note on virginia that you there treat of the climate Generally after haveing Shewn by a Table the general current of the winds from observation for one year you remark that “The eastern and Southern Briezes come on Generally in the afternoon. They have advanced into the country within the memory of persons now living They formerly did not penetrate fare above Williamsburg. they are now frequent at Richmond and every now and then they reach the mountains” It is to the prevalence of these winds at this place I wish to call your attention And as I am a total Stranger to you I will take the liberty of remarking to you that I was born about 12 miles below this on James River and have resided near this place from the year 1780 untill the year 1894 when I removed to this place. and Setled on that angle of James River on the side near the summit of the hill amediately above Rockter. Since which I have measurable been intested in the arrival and departure of vessels arriving at and departing from our port This has given me an oppertunity of observg the General current of the winds and rises of water in the River for more than twenty years say, 26 years. The greate change that has taken place here for nearly two years past has excited my desire to know how it is to be accounted for. The wind in these two years particularly for about 16 months last past has prevailed from the Southeast at least halfe of the twenty four months and ten months out of the 16 last. This or some other cause has had the effect or has caused a Surprising change in the seasons here. I believe that I may say with confidence that not more than from 30 to 40 inches of water has fallen for these two year last past being less than one halfe the quantity in the year 1781 That the Streams of water has been gradually decreasing is Generally believed, but the change for these last two years has excited my curiosity so far as to thus trespas on your tim with a hope that you will draw some usefull conclusion the more especially when our state is about to embark in a work of Greate magnitude the success of which will some what depend on a supply of water. I am Sure that you will make allowance for there crude remarks* They have been communicated to you from no other than a belief that you can if your time will admit draw such conclusions as may be beneficial to the community Should you think these observations drawn from facts that has come under my own knowledge worthy of your attention I have one other Subject that I will with your approbation communicate to you This relates to the Fosul Lime and shel Work which in the year 1814 while ingaged in assisting to Make a Topographive Survey of the Lower county I have discovered in the greatest abundance the former I am happy to think is likely to become an article of considerable importance for water to merit some trials have been made which bid fair to exeed the Duct Torice and the latter is in quallity and Quantity such that must eventually make this lower county the most fertile part of the state, Indeed I see nothing wanting but an Industrous population to regenerate this once diserable tract of country which has become with the exception of the large estates on the Rivers almost a desert. The thin population seems to want energy. mostly for want of exertion on the part of the few remaing affluent inhabitants who are more bent on increasing what they think is. adding to their estates by adding to their domain, instead of promping and encouraging industry and frugallity in that community which by becoming industrious would add more towards their wealth than by increasing their domain withoutt population. I am persuaded that there is not a greater field for industry and enterprize that the lower part of this state. There has been discovered ajoining the Town of Batesville commonly called Orstoms. a Quarry of Firestone which for quantity and Quallity is equal to any that has been discovered in this or any other country, It is situated on the Margin of the River. This stone like that at Paris comes from the Quarry left over becomes from exposure to the Atmosphere quite hard and must prove of consequence in the erection of the works begun and contemplated in the chesapeak as there is from 15 to 20 fathoms water within as many feet of this Quarry and the Quarry extends for near one mile of the River how such a valuable article in building should so long escaped the notice of builders I am at a loss to conceive. unless from its soft center while in the Quarry no trials have been made of its becoming hard from being separated from the chafs. This Stone is said by judges to be in quallity more like the Paris Stone than any other that has been discovered in this country The New yard once part of the city Hall has been built of this Stone It is expected that the Docks contemplated at Burwell bay will be built from the Quarry being the most convenient not haveing to add I am with high esteem

Your most Obt Hum

Richard Young

* I never was at school since I was 9. years old the memorable year 1776 I left school and had labour with my old father, while my elder brother was in the army occasionally

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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