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    Jefferson, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson"), to James Monroe, 16 Jan 1811. 1 page (7.75 x 9.75 in.; 197 x 248 mm), Monticello, 16 January 1811, written to future President James Monroe. Slight toning with stains at upper left, not affecting text. Two years after his retirement to Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson writes a letter to fellow Virginian and future President James Monroe. Jefferson writes in full: Dear Sir Since my last to you, the Directors of the Rivanna company have changed their minds, and instead of going through my canal they have determined to go through the bed of the river; and it being a question between us, whether they or I must build & maintain the lock at my dam, which dam they must have built had I not done it, they have proposed a reference to arbitrators, to which I gladly consent, I leave to themselves the naming them. I must therefore pray you to return me the papers I inclosed you, as they will be to be laid before the arbitrators. I have lately also had an opportunity of seeing the two laws of 1792 & 1802 which had been stated to me as retrospective; but I find they are not so, and that they admit, on the contrary, the validity of former grants of the bed of watercourses by a necessary implication. I had been afraid that a momentary inattention might have led our legislature to what I was sure they would not have done but by surprise, but yet I suspect that the just rights of riparian landholders have not yet been so well investigated & understood as they should be. The opening of the Rappahanoc will concern the rights of many adjacent landholders, and the legislature interposition there should establish the true principles, that the rights of this description of citizens may not be left at the mercy of uninformed commissioners, and bound as an adversary party, to take every advantage in their power. I do not however impute this to the gentlemen in my case, whose proceedings with me have been fair & friendly, ever yours affectionately Th: Jefferson P.S. should judge [Hugh] Nelson be appd. Governor, could not P. Carr be made his successor? His integrity & understanding all know, and having been once well read in the law, it would soon be refreshed. This suggestion is solely my own. The Rivanna Company had been created by an act of the Virginia Legislature in 1806 in order to improve the navigation of the Rivanna River between Charlottesville and Milton. Legal problems arose when a dam belonging to Jefferson caused a space of dead water along a 2 ½ mile stretch of the river. To help solve this problem, Jefferson had donated the materials to build a series of locks around his dam, but maintained that he was not obligated to build them. Apparently, the arbitration mentioned above by Jefferson was successful, as the two parties had worked out their differences before the outbreak of the War of 1812. From the collection of William J. Bell.

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    July, 2020
    23rd Thursday
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