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TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 5.
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TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL
Paris Decr. 26, 1786.
—* * * My Notes on Virginia, having been hastily written, need abundance of corrections. Two or three of these are so material that I am reprinting a few leaves to substitute for the old. As soon as these shall be ready, I will beg your acceptance of a copy. I shall be proud to be permitted to send a copy, also, to the Count de Campomanes as a tribute to his science & his virtues. You will find in them that the Natural bridge had found an admirer in me also. I should be happy to make with you a tour of the curiosities you will find therein mentioned. That kind of pleasure surpasses much in my estimation whatever I find on this side the Atlantic. I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural bridge (for it is my property) and of passing there a part of the year at least. I have received American papers to the 1st of November. Some tumultuous meetings of the people have taken place in the Eastern states, i. e. one in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut, & one in N Hampsh. Their principal demand was a respite in the judiciary proceedings. No injury was done however in a single instance to the person or property of any one, nor did the tumult continue 24 hours in any one instance. In Massachusetts this was owing to the discretion which the malcontents still preserved, in Connecticut & N Hampshire, the body of the people rose in support of government & obliged the malcontents to go to their homes. In the last mentioned state they seized about 40, who were in jail for trial. It is believed this incident will strengthen our government. Those people are not entirely without excuse. Before the war those states depended on their whale oil & fish. The former was consumed in England, & much of the latter in the Mediterranean. The heavy duties on American whale oil now required in England exclude it from that market; & the Algerines exclude them from bringing their fish into the Mediterranean. France is opening her port for their oil, but in the meanwhile their antient debts are pressing them & they have nothing to pay with. The Massachusetts assembly too, in their zeal for paying their public debt had laid a tax too heavy to be paid in the circumstances of their state. The Indians seem disposed to make war on us. These complicated causes determined Congress to increase their force to 2000 men. The latter was the sole object avowed, yet the former entered for something into the measure. However I am satisfied the good sense of the people is the strongest army our government can ever have, & that it will not fail them. The Commercial convention at Annapolis was not full enough to do business. They found too their appointments too narrow, being confined to the article of commerce. They have proposed a meeting in Philadelphia in May, and that it may be authorized to propose amendments of whatever is defective in the federal constitution.
Congress have at length determined on a coinage. Their money unit is a dollar & the pieces above & below that are in decimal proportion. You will see their scheme in all the papers, except that the proportion they established between gold & silver is mistated at upwards of 20. to 1. instead of about 15¼ to 1.
It is believed that this court has patched up an accommodation for the moment between Russia & the Porte. In Holland they find greater difficulties. The present King of Prussia is zealous for the Stadholder, & the fear is of driving him into the Austrian scale of the European balance. Such a weight as this, shifted, would destroy all equilibriums and the preponderance once in favor of the restless powers of the north, the peace would soon be disturbed.
When I was in England I formed a portable copying press on the principle of the large one they make there for copying letters. I had a model made there & it has answered perfectly. A workman here has made several from that model. The itinerent temper of your court will, I think, render one of these useful to you. You must therefore do me the favor to accept of one. I have it now in readiness, & shall send it by the way of Bayonne to the care of Mr. Alexander there, unless Don Miguel de Lardizabal can carry it with him.
My hand admonishes me it is time to stop, & that I must defer writing to Mr. Barclay till to-morrow.
TO ALEXANDER McCAUL1
Paris, Jan. 4, 1787.
—In the letter which I had the honor of addressing you from London on the 19th of April 1786, I informed you that I had left my estate in the hands of a Mr. Eppes & a Mr. Lewis, who were first to clear off some debts which had been necessarily contracted during the war, & afterwards to apply the whole profits to the paiment of my debt to you (by which I mean that to the several firms with which you were connected) and of my part of a debt due from Mr. Wayles’s estate to Farrell & Jones of Bristol. Being anxious to begin the paiment of these two debts, & finding that it would be too long postponed if the residuary one’s were to be paid merely from the annual profits of the estate, a number of slaves have been sold, & I have lately received information from Messrs. Eppes & Lewis that the proceeds of that sale with the profits of the estate to the end of 1786 would pay off the whole of the residuary debts. As we are now therefore clear of embarrasments to pursue our principal object, I am desirous of arranging with you such just & practicable conditions as will ascertain to you the receipt of your debt, & give me the satisfaction of knowing that you are contented. What the laws of Virginia are or may be, will in no wise influence my conduct. Substantial justice is my object, as decided by reason, & not by authority or compulsion.
The article of interest may make a difficulty. I had the honour of observing to you, in my former letter that I thought it just I should pay it for all the time preceding the war, & all the time subsequent to it, but that for the time during the war I did not consider myself as bound in justice to pay. This includes the period from the commencement of hostilities Apr. 19, 1775, to their cessation April 19, 1783, being exactly eight years. To the reasons against this paiment which apply in favor of the whole mass of American debtors, I added the peculiar circumstance of having already lost the debt, principal & interest, by endeavoring to pay it by the sale of lands, & by the depreciation of their price; & also a second loss of an equal sum by Ld. Cornwallis’s barbarous & useless depredations. I will therefore refer you to that letter, to save the repetition here of those reasons which absolve me in justice from the paiment of this portion of interest. In law, our courts have uniformly decided that the treaty of peace stipulates the paiment of the principal only & not of any interest whatever.
This article being once settled, I would propose to divide the clear proceeds of my estate (in which there are from 80 to 100 labouring slaves) between yourself & Farrell & Jones, one third to you and two thirds to them: & that the crop of this present year 1787 shall constitute the first payment. That crop you know cannot be got to the warehouse completely till May of the next year, & I presume, that three months more will be little enough to send it to Europe or to sell it in Virginia & remit the money. So that I could not safely answer for placing the proceeds in your hands till the month of August, & so annually every August afterwards till the debt shall be paid. It will always be both my interest and my wish to get it to you as much sooner as possible & probably a part of it may always be paid some months sooner. If the assigning the profits in general terms may seem to you too vague, I am willing to fix the annual paiment at a sum certain. But that I may not fall short of my engagement, I shall name it somewhat less than I suppose may be counted on. I shall fix your part at two hundred pounds sterling annually, and as you know our crops of tobacco to be incertain, I should reserve a right, if they should fall short one year, to make it up the ensuing one, without being supposed to have failed in my engagement, but I would be obliged every second year to pay any arrearages of the preceding one together with the full sum for the current year: so that once in every two years the annual paiment should be fully paid up.
I do not know what the balance is: having for a long time before the war had no settlement, yet there can be no difficulty in making that settlement, & in the mean while the paiments may proceed without affecting the right of either party to have a just settlement.
If you think proper to accede to these propositions, be so good as to say so at the foot of a copy of this letter, on my receipt of that, I will send you an acknowledgement of it, which shall render this present letter obligatory on me for the paiment of the debt before mentioned & interest at the epochs & in the proportions before mentioned excepting always the interest during the war. This done, you may count on my faithful execution of it.
I avail myself of this, as of every other occasion of recalling myself to your friendly recollection, & of assuring you of the sentiments of perfect esteem and attachment with which I am, &c.
[1 ]See letter of Apr. 19, 1786, ante, page 88.