JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826). Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson") to "Mr. Remsen" (his friend, the inventor Henry Remsen), Monticello, 18 June 1795. 1 page, 4to.
JEFFERSON CONSIDERS THE WAR IN EUROPE, AS HIS HOPES FOR A GENERAL PEACE FADE
Jefferson had resigned as Secretary of State the previous December and threw himself into the improvement and expansion of Monticello. Here, in temporary retirement, he warmly thanks Remsen for his letter and comments on the continued upheavals in Europe: "I have been anxious to hear that the French should have established a general peace with their continental enemies: but the hope, at least of a general one, lessens." Following the abolition of the monarchy, the execution of Louis XVI and the reign of terror, France had been at war with Spain, Holland and Britain; the Treaty of Basel, signed in March, brought only a temporary lull. While most Americans endorsed neutrality, Jefferson's sympathies clearly lay with France. Most Federalists, including President Washington, favored Britain. Jay's Treaty, ratified by the Senate only six days after this letter, settled some of the U.S. grievances with Britain, but in response the French Directoire stepped up its interference with American merchant vessels, leading a few years later to the Quasi-War with France (1798-1800).
ESTABLISHING A NAIL-MAKING INDUSTRY AT MONTICELLO. Jefferson is interested in a new machine for making nails, and notes that "you expected Mr. Burral to be shortly in New York & to give you further information on the subject of the machine for cutting nails. Without waiting for the further information, (as I am much pressed for nails) I am disposed to accept his offer of making a machine for 40 dollars. The difference of a few dollars is of little account in adopting a thing which is to be of long continuance, so that unless you shall have received information which in your own judgment renders some other more eligible, I will pray you to get one of Mr. Burral's very complete, & to forward it...with 500 # of the proper iron for cutting 4 pennies, and a few (say 100). 4 pennies, 6 pennies, & 8 pennies, of the cut nails by way of sample." (The nail-making machine was in full operation at Monticello by February 1796.)
Jefferson asks Remsen to "Draw for the amount of the whole on Mr. John Barnes...who is enabled & instructed to honour your draughts at sight. I find the nail making profitable and convenient, I am getting more & more into it. I have a dozen hands employed now, and shall increase them. I will by no means trouble you with giving me a price current of any extent. But whenever you are kind enough to favor me with a line, the price of bar iron, nail rod, and wheat will be acceptable." In a postscript he sends "some bills of exchange," asking their safe conveyance.