Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Martha Jefferson Randolph, 2 March 1809

March 2 1809

My dearest Father

I shall go to Monticello a day or two before you arrive as it is probable by the return of the waggon you will be able to fix a day for your return. the arrangements necessary for retrenching all possible expense no one can be more thoroughly convinced of the necessity of than my self. your comfort My Dearest Father must however be the only Criterion any Incroachment upon that were it productive of millions to the children would be distracting to me. I can bear any thing but the idea of seeing you harrassed in your old age by debts or deprived of those comforts which long habit has rendered necessary to you. our children are young and healthy and their habits may be formed to what we please therefore I conjure you by the Dear the sacred tie that unites us to make your arrangements so as to relieve your self, and we shall all be happy if you are so. I assure you again and again that the possession of millions would not compensate for one year’s sadness & discomfort to you. the trouble you speak of so far as it regards my self is nothing you know. “nothing is troublesome that we do willingly” your difficulties will be a stimulus that would render rest the most intolerable of all cares to me. my health is good and exercise will still confirm it but I am afraid you will be very much dissappointed in your expectations from Shoemaker it is the opinion of the neighbourhood that it would be better for you to get the mill back upon any terms than to let him keep it in the first place. he is not a man of business his bargains are ruinous to himself and more over he has not one Spark of honesty. his credit is so low that nothing but necessity induces any one to trust him with their grain; and the general complaint is that it cannot be got out of his hands. he told Higginbotham that if perfectly conveninient he might perhaps pay the 500$ on your order but not one cent more would he pay untill there had been a settlement between you. and it is the general opinion that he means to keep the mill & set you at defiance. from some circumstances I am afraid you have been decieved in the character of his Father. there are strong doubts of his honesty in the minds of many here. in short My Dear Father disagreable as it is to tease you with tales of the kind I think it my duty to tell you the opinion of the whole neighbourhood of the man and your prospects from him. if the bargain was made with the Father perhaps you may secure your self though even that is doubted. as for the son your chance is I fear desperate for certainly a greater rascal or a more bitter personal enemy to you does not exist. they say farther that he will contrive to destroy the gear of the mill so as to make it scarcely hold out his time. you may depend upon it that I have not exaggerated the reports and I have reason to believe them too well founded. people allow your mill to be invaluable from it situation and if it was in the hands of a tolerably honest or indrustious man it would be a public benefit. as it is by the time his lease is out it will be totally destroyed as far as it will be possible to do it and you get nothing from him in the mean time. I should not have mentioned these things now, but that perhaps it may enable you to do something with the old man if your bargain is with him. as for the sons they have no character to maintain and never intended to comply with their contract. excuse me again for intruding so disgusting a subject upon you nothing as I have already said but a strong sense of the necessity of your being informed of your situation while there is a possibility of bettering it would have made me meddle in so disagreable a business. the rest of our difficulties we will talk over to gether. as to Aunt Marks it would not be desirable to have her if it was proper. I had full proof of her being totally incompetent to the business the last summer the servants have no sort of respect for her and take just what they please before her face. she is an excellent creature and a neat manager in a little way, but she has neither head nor a sufficient weight of character to manage so large an establishment as yours will be. I shall devote my self to it and with feeling, which I never could have in my own affairs, and with what tenderness of affection we will will wait upon and cherish you My Dearest Father [. . .] will experience but I cannot tell. if you can be tranquil we shall not suffer. the arrangements you propose for clearing your estate answer so much the better if they do not which will be soon ascertained, you must releave your self in some other way, certain than we can only be happy by seeing you so. God bless you and restore you speedily to your truly affectionate child

M R.

I believe I shall send these letters by the post for fear of the waggon being detained by some accident on the road and my letter to Botidour missing Mr Coles. if you have one of your profiles by St Memin I wish you would enclose it with My letter, I know her respect and affection for you will make it most grateful to her. I have sent by the waggon a box for Mrs Madison which I must beg the favor of you to send to her. Ellen has not been at home for 3 weeks which will account for her not havin written to you adieu

MHi: Coolidge Collection.

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