Lot 3: Thomas Jefferson
10th August 2016
ALS as president signed “Th: Jefferson,” one page, 7.25 x 9.5, September 1, 1808. Letter to “The Secretary at War,” Henry Dearborn. In part: “I regret extremely that the estimate of the blocks at N. York should place them above our appropriation. The data of calculation should be above all question to justify suspending the operation. But, if they are to cost a million, altho’ I should be for it, yet Congress should be consulted. I inclose you a letter from George Mosley wishing to be a Cadet, with Govr. Tompkins’s recommendation, which places him on high ground. I propose to be in Washington on the 1st. of October. The newspapers tell us of dispatches from Mr. Pinckney: but Mr. Madison had not received any the day before yesterday. I salute you with affection & respect.” Professionally cleaned, backed, and extensively restored to fine condition. In the waning days of his presidency, Jefferson was confronted with mounting resistance to his sponsored Embargo Act of 1807. In his attempt to isolate the US economy and assume neutrality with France and Britain amid the Napoleonic Wars, Jefferson prohibited both the exporting of goods and the docking of American vessels into foreign ports. Led by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the Federalist Party used their opposition to the embargo as momentum leading up to the 1808 presidential election. Although James Madison handily defeated Pinckney, the Federalist push convinced Jefferson to formally repeal the embargo in March of 1909. Jefferson’s mention of “the estimate of the blocks at N. York” likely refers to nascent development stages of the Erie Canal, a landmark waterway project with such exorbitant costs as to prompt Jefferson to deem the proposal as ‘a little short of madness.’
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