James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 5 February 1795

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Feb. 5. 95.

Th: J. to J. Madison.

Congress drawing to a close, I must trouble you with a bundle of little commissions

1. to procure for me a copy of the correspondence between Genet, Hammond & myself at large.

2. a pamphlet entitled ‘Sketches on rotations of crops,’1 to be had I believe at Dobson’s. The author in a note pa. 43. mentions some former publication of his, which I should be glad to have also; as I am sure it must be good. Who is the author? Is it Peters? I do not think it is Logan.

3. to procure for me from some of the seedsmen some of the seed of the Winter vetch2 (it is the Vicia sativa, semine albo of Millar3) as it is cheap, you may be governed in the quantity by the convenience of bringing. I think it must be valuable for our fall-fallows.

4. to commission your barber to find for me such a seal as he let you have.

5. to enquire of J. Bringhurst whether Donath4 is returned from Hamburg, who was to bring me some glass? I know nobody who can give the information but Bringhurst, and I would not trouble you with it could I have got a word from him otherwise. But I have written twice to him, & got no answer, and I have sent twice to Philadelphia by a neighbor of mine, whom he has put off by saying he would write to me. If I could only find out whether Donath is returned, & what is his address in Philadelphia, I could then enquire about my glass of himself by letter.

We have now had about 4. weeks of winter weather, rather hard for our climate—many little snows which did not lay 24. hours, & one 9. I. deep which remained several days. We have had few thawing days during the time. It is generally feared here that your collegue F. Walker will be in great danger of losing his election. His competitor is indefatigable attending courts &c. and wherever he is, there is a general drunkenness observed, tho’ we do not know that it proceeds from his purse.5 Wilson Nicholas is attacked also in his election. The ground on which the attack is made is that he is a speculator. The explanations which this has produced, prove it a serious crime in the eyes of the people. But as far as I hear he is only investing the fruits of a first & only speculation. Almost every carriage-owner has been taken in for a double tax: information through the newspapers not being actual, tho legal, in a country where they are little read. This circumstance has made almost every man, so taken in, a personal enemy to the tax. I escaped the penalty only by sending an express over the county to search out the officer the day before the forfeiture would have been incurred. We presume you will return to Orange after the close of the session, and hope the pleasure of seeing mrs. Madison & yourself here. I have past my winter almost alone, mr. & mrs. Randolph being at Varina. Present my best respects to mrs. Madison, & accept them affectionately yourself. Adieu.

RC (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1[John Beale Bordley], Sketches on Rotations of Crops (Philadelphia, 1792; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 24129).

2For discussion and excerpts from correspondence concerning Jefferson’s use of vetch in crop rotation, see Betts, Jefferson’s Farm Book, pp. 189, 310–19.

3Philip Miller, The Gardener’s Dictionary (London, 1768).

4John Bringhurst was a “fancy goods merchant” with premises at 12 South Third Street; Josiah Donath was a merchant with a shop at 28 South Front Street (Hardie, Philadelphia Directory [1794 ed.], pp. 17, 40).

5In the congressional elections on 16 Mar., Samuel Jordan Cabell (1756–1818) defeated his fellow Republican Francis Walker in the district composed of Albemarle, Amherst, Fluvanna, and Goochland counties. A Revolutionary veteran and member of the Society of the Cincinnati, Cabell represented Amherst County in the House of Delegates, 1785–92. An Antifederalist at the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788, he later cooperated with French Strother of Culpeper County in opposing JM’s proposal for discriminating between original and subsequent holders of government securities. JM imputed the opposition of Cabell and Strother to “personal animosity.” Cabell served in the House of Representatives, 1795–1803 (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , 13:332; Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 354; JM to Edmund Randolph, 21 Mar. 1790, PJM description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 13:110).

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