Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS RITCHIE - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
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TO THOMAS RITCHIE - 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.
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TO THOMAS RITCHIE
Monticello Feb. 28 26
—I have duly received your favor covering one from a Lottery office offering it’s services for the management of that lately permitted to me. I have for some years been obliged by age and ill health to resign the care of all my affairs to my grandson Th. J. R. who accdly acts for me with full powers in all cases. That of the lottery particularly has been entirely left to him so that I know nothing of it’s plan or management. I therefore sent immediately to him your letter and that which it covered. I think however that I heard him say he had engaged a particular company before he left Richmd. If he has not I am sure your recommdn will be received with respect. I have had too many proofs dear Sir of your kind disposns to need any assurance that in all cases respecting myself whatever you do is done from the most frdly motives. That the opinions of my best friends were divided on my late proposition appeared in every quarter, and in none stronger than on the 1st question in the H. of R. My own alarm at that vote was great & painful. But I found, with all, that the more steadily they viewed the object the more they rallied to the alternative which finally prevailed. I knew that my property if a fair market could be obtained was far beyond the amt. of my debts and sfft after paying them to leave me at ease. I knew at the same time that in the present abject prostration of agricultural industry in this country no market existed for that form of property; a long succession of unfruitful years, long-continued low prices, oppressive tariffs levied on other branches to maintain that of manufactures, far the most flourishing of all, calamitous fluctuans in the value of our circulating medium, and, in my case a want of skill, in the management of our land & labor, these circumstances had been long undermining the state of agriculture, had been breaking up the landholders and glutting the land market here, while drawing off it’s bidders to people the Western country. Under such circumstances agricultural property had become no resource for the payment of debts. To obtain a fair market was all I wanted, and this the only means of obtaining it. The idea was perhaps more familiar to me than to younger people because so commonly practised before the revoln. It had no connection with morality, altho’ it had with expediency. Instead of being suppressed therefore with mere games of chance, lotteries had been placed under the discretion of the legislre as a means of sometimes effecting purposes desirable while left voluntary. Whether my case was within the range of that discretion, they were to judge, and in the integrity of that jdmt I have the most perfect confidce. And I hope I am not deceived in thinking that I discover after the 1st impression is rectified, some revulsion in the general opinion. You say you had made up from the public papers a little packet of expressions containing proofs of this. Such proofs would be acceptable and the more so after the rap of the knuckles received from the 1st vote. I pray you to be assured of my great frdship and respect.1
[1 ]Jefferson further wrote to Ritchie:
Monticello Mar. 13. ’26
—The interest you are so kind as to take in the measures proposed for relieving me from embarrassment brings on you the trouble of this letter. I have received an application from persons in N. Co. desirous of manifesting their goodwill to me by contributions in money, if acceptable, and offering to dispose of a portion of tickets if the way of lottery is preferred. This renders it necessary to take at once decided ground, lest by pursuing different plans they may defeat one another. It certainly is not for me to prescribe what shape my fellow citizens shall manifest their kindness to me. The bounties from one’s country, expressions of it’s approbation, are honors which it would be arrogance to refuse, especially where flowing from the willing only. The same approbation however expressed by promoting the success of the lottery, would have the advantage of relieving the repugnance we justly feel against becoming a burthen to our friends and may justly excuse a preference of this mode. In answering my well wishers of N. Carolina I have endeavored to explain respectfully the motives of this preference. I send you a copy of this answer, as possessing the grounds of our proceedings. You may be able perhaps, by occasional editorial hints, to give uniformity of direction to the various propositions of which you probably will be made the center. Those to whom this letter is addressed may perhaps publish it which should not I think, be formally otherwise done.
The necessity which dictated this expedient cost me in it’s early stage unspeakable mortification. The turn it has taken, so much beyond what I could have expected, has countervailed all I suffered, and become a source of felicity which I should otherwise never have known. Affectionately & gratefully yours.