JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson") as former President, to Joseph Wilson, Monticello, 10 May 1821. 1 full page, 4to, creases, neat mends along two horizontal folds, a small chip costing part of two letters, light browning. Verso with recipient's docket: "Thomas Jefferson...in regard to wines."
"THOMAS JEFFERSON IN REGARD TO WINE": WINE FROM MARSEILLES AND BOOKS FROM PARIS
During his residences in France in 1787, Jefferson made two extensive tours of the best French vineyards, sampling different vintages and types in Champagne, Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Cote du Rhone. He developed -- especially for an amateur -- a remarkably sophisticated, discriminating palate for the best French wines. While President and afterwards, he relied on shipments from France to stock his wine cellar. But such imports--of books as well as wine--posed special problems, as here spelled out by Jefferson. One of his annual wine shipments had landed in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and the customs collector there, Wilson, had duly informed the former President.
"Your favor of Apr, 23 is just now received, and I am first to apologize for the liberty taken of having the articles which are the subject of it consigned to you. I receive every year my supply of wines from Marseilles, and of books from Paris by the way of [Le] Havre, and American vessels being rare in those ports, I am obliged to request their being sent by such vessel as may be in port, and consigned to the collector of whatever port of the U.S. she is bound to, and these gentlemen have hitherto indulged me as far as to receive them, pay the freight, and notify me...and I have ever immediately remitted the duties and charges. I have accordingly this day desired my correspondent in Richmond, Capt. Bernard Peyton to remit you the sum of 40 D. 91. c [$40.91] on receipt of which I will ask the further favor of you to ship them by any safe hand bound from your port to Richmond." Then, Jefferson notes that "besides other articles of commerce," coal must be a frequent commodity handled by Wilson. "If consigned to Captain Peyton he will pay freight and all other charges & forward the articles to me. Be pleased to accept my thanks for your kind attention...."
Bernard Peyton, Jefferson's agent, assumed a growing number of tasks on the former President's behalf: in addition to assisting with financial matters--like wine and book purchases--he dealt with creditors and the mounting financial difficulties which clouded Jefferson's declining years.