Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO HUGH NELSON - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO HUGH NELSON - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 12.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO HUGH NELSON
Monticello Feb. 7. 20
—I thank you for your information on the progress & prospects of the Missouri question. It is the most portentous one which ever yet threatened our Union. In the gloomiest moment of the revolutionary war I never had any apprehensions equal to what I feel from this source.
I observe you are loaded with petitions from the Manufacturing commercial & agricultural interests, each praying you to sacrifice the others to them. This proves the egotism of the whole and happily balances their cannibal appetites to eat one another. The most perfect confidence in the wisdom of Congress leaves me without a fear of the result. I do not know whether it is any part of the petitions of the farmers that our citizens shall be restrained to eat nothing but bread, because that can be made here. But this is the common spirit of all their petitions. My ill-health has obliged me to retire from all public concerns. I scarcely read a newspaper. I cannot therefore tell you what is a doing in the state, but this you will get fully from others. I will therefore add only the assurances of my great & friendly esteem and respect.1
[1 ]Jefferson further wrote to Nelson:
Monticello, March 12, 1820
I thank you, dear Sir, for the information in your favor of the 4th instant, of the settlement, for the present, of the Missouri question. I am so completely withdrawn from all attention to public matters, that nothing less could arouse me than the definition of a geographical line, which on an abstract principle is to become the line of separation of these States, and to render desperate the hope that man can ever enjoy the two blessings of peace and self-government. The question sleeps for the present, but is not dead. This State is in a condition of unparalleled distress. The sudden reduction of the circulating medium from a plethory to all but annihilation is producing an entire revolution of fortune. In other places I have known lands sold by the sheriff for one year’s rent; beyond the mountain we hear of good slaves selling for one hundred dollars, good horses for five dollars, and the sheriffs generally the purchasers. Our produce is now selling at market for one-third of its price, before this commercial catastrophe, say flour at three and a quarter and three and a half dollars the barrel. We should have less right to expect relief from our legislators if they had been the establishers of the unwise system of banks. A remedy to a certain degree was practicable, that of of reducing the quantum of circulation gradually to a level with that of the countries with which we have commerce, and an eternal abjuration of paper. But they have adjourned without doing anything. I fear local insurrections against these horrible sacrifices of property. In every condition of trouble or tranquillity be assured of my constant esteem and respect.