(1743-1826) 3rd President of the United States; principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Autograph letter signed "Th: Jefferson," one page, 7 x 5½ in., Monticello, May 10, 1818. To Mr. James Rawlings regarding unpaid insurance on Monticello. In full:
"Sir Yours of Mar. 21 came to hand in the moment of my departure on a journey from which I am but just now returned, or the answer should not have been so long delayed. These arrearages have occurred from inattention partly, but chiefly from the circumstances that no agent has applied for them. I now inclose an order on Mr. Gibson for 71.90 insurance & interest from 1814 to 1818 inclusive on my house at this place, and if I could be reminded, or recollect it myself annually, it should be punctually paid in Richmond in the same way. I tender you the assurance of my respect. Th: Jefferson."
Thomas Jefferson carried a substantial burden of debt for much of his lifetime. He lived beyond his means, spending copious amounts on furnishings, building projects, farm implements, books, wine, and whatever struck his fancy--often from abroad--with no thought as to how he would pay. Creditors did not press him because he was Thomas Jefferson. He was rich in land and slaves but this did not translate into ready cash. An incessant stream of admirers who traveled to Monticello to see the great Jefferson had to be fed and entertained--an expensive undertaking. Jefferson also inherited his father-in-law's debt and co-signed at least one note for a friend, which he had to assume when the friend died. Additionally, the Panic of 1819 and the ensuing recession affected Jefferson. These are a few of the reasons that left a debt of $107,000 when Jefferson died, forcing the sale of Monticello and Jefferson's slaves. Estimated Value $15,000 - 20,000