James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 16 April 1810

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Apr. 16. 10.

Dear Sir

On my return from Bedford I found in our post office your favor of the 2d. inst. as also the inclosed letter from mr. Martin, formerly of N. C. recommended to us by mr. Blackledge.1 I dare say you will recollect more of him than I do. I remember that his being a native French man, educated I believe to the law there, very long a resident of this country and become a respectable lawyer with us, were circumstances which made us wish we could have then employed him at N. O. I know nothing of him however but what you learned from the same source, & I inclose his letter that you may see that emploiment would be agreed to on his part.2 I have at the same time recieved an offer from mr. Fulton to lend me his dynamometer, mine having been lost.3 I have concluded therefore to keep the plough till I can determine it’s comparative merit by that instrument. The mouldboard which I first made, with a square toe, was liable to the objection you make of accumulating too much earth on it when in a damp state, & of making the plough too long. By making it, on the same principles, with a sharp toe, it has shortened the plough 9. I. & got rid of the great hollow on which the earth made it’s lodgment. It is now as short & light as the plough we got from Philadelphia, which indeed was my model, with only the substitution of a much superior mould board. I have certainly never seen a plough do better work or move so easily. Still the instrument alone can ascertain it’s merit mathematically. Our spring is wonderfully backward. We have had asparagus only two days. The fruit has escaped better than was believed. It is killed only in low places. We easily agree as to the Merinos: but had nothing happened would they not have been here? Ever your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC and enclosure (DLC); FC (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Enclosure (3 pp.) is Francis Xavier Martin to Jefferson, 11 Feb. 1810 (see n. 2).

1William Blackledge, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, 1803–9 and 1811–13, had recommended Martin for a territorial judgeship (Blackledge to JM, 12 Dec. 1808, Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:810–11).

2JM had already nominated Martin—who had served for the past year as a judge in the Mississippi Territory—for the Orleans territorial judgeship on 19 Mar. In his letter to Jefferson, Martin complained, “My Situation in the Mississippi is So very uncomfortable & the emoluments of office So Scanty … that it was expedient to Seek employment in the City of New Orleans, as an attorney, or return to Carolina.” The death of John Thompson, the Orleans territorial judge, caused Martin to solicit Jefferson’s “powerful aid.” Martin wrote a similar letter to Robert Smith on 15 Feb. (ibid., 9:867; see also Nathaniel Macon to JM, 18 Mar. 1810, and n.).

3Jefferson accepted Robert Fulton’s offer to lend him a dynamometer for his plow experiment. A friend in Paris had previously sent Jefferson a dynamometer, which was lost during his move from Washington to Monticello (Jefferson to Fulton, 16 Apr. 1810, Lipscomb and Bergh, Writings of Jefferson description begins Andrew A. Lipscomb and Albert Ellery Bergh, eds., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (20 vols.; Washington, 1903-4). description ends , 19:172–73).

Index Entries