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Lot 44: Jefferson, Thomas. Fine autograph letter signed, 1 page (10 x 7 7/8 in.; 254 x 200 mm.)Platinum House
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
44. Jefferson, Thomas. Fine autograph letter signed (“Th: Jefferson”), 1 page (10 x 7 7/8 in.; 254 x 200 mm.), “Philadelphia,” 28 March 1791 to James McHenry, a participant in the Constitutional Convention from Maryland; light browning and spotting, minute paper loss at intersecting fold affecting one character of one word of text.
Jefferson reports the murder of some friendly Indians near Fort Pitt and news from Europe.
In his informative letter, Jefferson provides intriguing news from both home and abroad.
Jefferson writes in full: Having sent your letters to Mr. Short with a desire that he will, as far as is right, patronize the applications which shall be made to the minister on your demand, instead of destroying your first letter to Messr. Le Couteux, I have thought it better to return it to you, in proof that your desires have been complied with. --a murder of some friendly Indians a little beyond Fort Pitt is likely to defeat our efforts to make a general peace, & to render the combination in war against us more extensive. This was done by a party of Virginians within the limits of Pennsylvania. --The only news from Europe interesting to us is that the Brit[ish] Parl[iament] is about to give free storage to American wheat carried to Engl[an]d in British bottoms for re-exportation. in this case we must make British bottoms lading with wheat, pay that storage here, in the form of a duty, & give it to American bottoms lading with the same article, in order not to keep our vessels on a par as to transportation of our own produce, but to shift the meditated advantage into their scale, at least so say I.
At the time of Jefferson’s letter, James McHenry was fully entrenched in the State Senate of Maryland. Although a staunch Federalist, McHenry shared many of Jefferson’s views on issues both domestic and foreign. A fascinating letter in which Jefferson relates the murder of Indians and predicts the ramifications of the crime to affect peace efforts dramatically. Turning his attention to news abroad, Jefferson reports on wheat export with England and suggests a duty to balance what is being proposed by British Parliament.