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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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2005. DEBT, Jefferson's personal.—
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2005. DEBT, Jefferson's personal.—

will have seen in the newspapers some proceedings
in the Legislature, which have cost
me much mortification. [119] My own debts had
become considerable, but not beyond the effect
of some lopping of property, which would
have been but little felt, when our friend—[120] gave me the coup de grace. Ever since that I
have been paying twelve hundred dollars a
year interest on his debt, which, with my own,
was absorbing so much of my annual income
as that the maintenance of my family
was making deep and rapid inroads on my
capital, and had already done it. Still, sales
at a fair price would leave me competently
provided. Had crops and prices for several
years been such as to maintain a steady competition
of substantial bidders at market, all
would have been safe. But the long succession
of years of stunted crops, of reduced
prices, the general prostration of the farming
business, under levies for the support of
manufacturers, &c., with the calamitous fluctuations
of value in our paper medium, have
kept agriculture in a state of abject depression,
which has peopled the western States
by silently breaking up those on the Atlantic,
and glutted the land market, while it drew off
its bidders. In such a state of things, property
has lost its character of being a resource
for debts. Highland in Bedford, which, in
the days of our plethory, sold readily for from
fifty to one hundred dollars the acre (and
such sales were many then), would not now
sell for more than from ten to twenty dollars,
or one-quarter or one-fifth of its former price.
Reflecting on these things, the practice occurred
to me, of selling, on fair valuation,
and by way of lottery, often resorted to before
the Revolution to effect large sales, and
still in constant usage in every State for individual
as well as corporation purposes. If
it is permitted in my case, my lands here
alone, with the mills, &c., will pay everything
and leave me Monticello and a farm free. If
refused, I must sell everything here, perhaps
considerably in Bedford, move thither with
my family, where I have not even a log hut
to put my head into, and whether ground for
burial, will depend on the depredations which,
under the form of sales, shall have been committed
on my property. The question then
with me was ultrum horum?
To James Madison. Washington ed. vii, 433. Ford ed., x, 376.
(M. Feb. 1826)


Application for authority to dispose of his property
by lottery.—Editor.


W. C. Nicholas.—Editor.