JEFFERSON, THOMAS, President. Autograph letter signed ("Th:Jefferson") to Wilson [Cary] Nicholas, Monticello, 1 November 1790. One page, 4to, small tear at top without loss, neatly laid down on a sheet of brownish paper.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND "MR. MADISON" TRY TO HELP ESTABLISH A MANUFACTURER OF GLASS
A good early letter to a close personal friend and political associate. "The bearer hereof Major Faire is the person from whom Mr. [James] Madison & myself mentioned as proposing to set up a glass manufactory. We had recommended James River to him. In passing thro' Culpeper however he had almost or even quite determined to fix there: induced principally by the offers of credit for their provisions, for the expense of first establishment being great, & their capital not so, they are obliged o attend to small advantages. I have reimpressed on him the advantages of James River, for navigation, cheapness of land, plenty of provision and persons as able to credit for provisions, and who will be as anxious to accomodate them as any in the state. Add to this a greater interest in the assembly from whom thay are to ask privileges. Majr. Powell, who is with him, has lands in Culpeper, & had offered some advantages to the establishment there. His is candid & acknowledges the superiority of James River in every point of view. I take the liberty of presenting him to your civilities, and the other, with his designs to your patronage, and am with great respect & esteem Dear Sir...."
Wilson Cary Nicholas (1761-1820), residing in Albemarle County, Virginia, had served in the Revolution and became commander of General Washington's Life Guard. Elected to the House of Delegates in 1784, he supported Madison's stand for religious liberty and championed the adoption of the Federal Constitution. He became an ardent Jeffersonian, worked with Jefferson and Madison in the formulation of the anti-Federalist Virginia Resolutions and in 1799 was elected to the Senate, where he served until 1804, then returned to Washington as a Congressman in 1807. He corresponded with the President on the subject of the Constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase, and in 1809 was a principal organizer of Madison's Presidentrial candidacy. In 1814 he was chosen Governor of Virginia. He collaborated with Jefferson in the organization and founding of the University of Virginia, and was briefly head of the Richmond branch of the Bank of the United States. In 1819, due to heavy speculations in frontier real estate, he defaulted on a $20,000 debt which his old friend Jefferson had indorsed on his behalf, causing considerable distress to his political mentor (see Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time; The Sage of Monticello, 1981, pp.302-305, 309-14). Nicholas died in virtual poverty in October 1820 and was interred in the graveyard at Monticello.