Monday, December 3, 2018

Using Christmas as a Legal Deadline & Thomas Jefferson

Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1765-1822)  Portrait of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Christmas as a Time of Reckoning (Primary Source References)

1768 May 15. "Agreed with Mr. Moore that he shall level 250 f. square on the top of the mountain at the N.E. end by Christmas, for which I am to give 180 bushels of wheat, & 24 bushels of corn, 12 of which are of to be paid till corn comes in."

1769 September 23. "R. Sorrels is to mawl 8000 rails for me by Christmas..."

1773 March 31. "The Debit of D. Minor's acct. this day is L136-16-4. The credits as collected in a hurry are L74-15. Gave him my promissory note for L62-1-4, the balance with interest from last Christmas."

1775 February 8. "The best way is to get all the ploughing for the succeeding crop of corn finished before Christmas, & so in all the open parts of the winter be fallowing for wheat."

1778 October 9. "Bought of Charles Goodman a buck fawn. it is to be brought home between Christmas & blossoming time. If I fetch it soon after Christmas I am to pay 40/."

1792 September 23. (Jefferson memo to Mr. Clarkson, Monticello overseer). "Make out at Christmas a list of all the stock, distinguishing the cattle into calves, yearlings, 2 year olds, 3 year olds, cows & steers, the hogs into sows, fatttening hogs, shoats, & pigs, the sheep into yews & wethers."

1795 January 10. (Jefferson annotated a list of livestock at Shadwell, probably in the hand of Eli Alexander). "Stock. Shadwell Christmas 94."

1796 August 31. "Bought a white horse of Joshua Burras for L11. Paiable at Christmas."

1800 December 22. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "...till I see Mr. powel or hear wheather he is Comeing. if he does not I will Return directly after Christmas..." 

1809 January 9. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "I left Monticello on Monday the 24th. of Nov. from which time there were 4 weeks to Christmas, & the hands ordered to be with Lilly that morning (except I think two) & according to his calculation & mine 3. or 4. acres a week should have been cleared."

1803 December 19. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "If on the 6th. we shall hear of it [militia arrival at N. Orleans] Christmas night..."

1808 December 11. (Jefferson to James Dinsmore). "The plane irons, sandpaper, 4. bell levers, & 2. bells will be sent by Davy's cart which will come here at Christmas."

1808 December 19. (Jefferson to Edmund Bacon) "Two tons of nailrod left Phila the 12th of this month, & will probably be at Richmond about Christmas."

1810 February 28. (Jefferson to Elizabeth Trist). "Within ten days Monticello will begin to enrobe itself in all it's bloom. We are now all out in our gardens & fields. Since Christmas I have taken farms into my own hands."

1818 May 3. (Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes). "He [Mr. Dashiell] is an excellent teacher as I judged, at his examination, by the progress & correctness of three boys particularly who had begun with him at Christmas."

1819. "...if 100. yards['outer clothing'] are wove by Xmas. we must get from the store 52 1/2 yds."

1820 December 12. (Jefferson to Edmund Bacon). "Mr. Yancey & myself conclude it will be best to send the pork of this place [Poplar Forest] to Monticello before Christmas hoping you will receive this letter on Sunday the 17th...& the waggon may start Thursday morning with that of this place & be at Monticello Christmas Eve."

1822 October 21. (Jefferson to Bernard Peyton). "Mr. T.E. Randolph assures me he will pay up the balance of his at Christmas which will then amount to 250."

1827 January 5. (Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas Philip Trist). "write to me soon: tell Cornelia the box has not arrived, we were compelled to eat Christmas dinner without her ham..."

1827 January 8. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist). "Christmas week was quite a merry one for her, & she has been to four parties (& dancing parties too) since Christmas day. this, you will say, is not making good use of her time, but it is a privileged season, & she has gone back very quietly to her lessons."

This research is based on the work of Mindy Keyes Black, Monticello Department of Development & Public Affairs, November 1996; Updated November 2006 with text by Elizabeth Chew & Dianne Swann-Wright. For much more information, click this link.