Featured Letter: Not Enough Vegetables
Thomas Jefferson prided himself on keeping his plantations at Monticello and Poplar Forest as self-sufficient as possible. He remarked early in 1813 that "I have been 50. years the owner of plantations, and never yet bought pork." However, in the immediate aftermath of his return to Monticello after retiring from the presidency, Jefferson found himself in need of a variety of root crops for winter use. In the document printed below, he listed what he initially thought was required and then recorded his subsequent discovery that he had badly underestimated his usage. Jefferson ordered these provisions from Mary Walker Lewis (1742-1824), who occasionally supplied him with seeds, plants, vegetables, meat, and eggs. A nearby landowner, Lewis was nicknamed "Captain Molly" for her strict demeanor but also celebrated for her charity and wit.
wrote for to mrs Lewis
Nov. 28. 09.
we found the above not to be half a provision for the winter.1 it shoul[d] be
|1. of the beds of||salsafia||=||2. bush = 4|
TJ's note to Mary LEWIS is not recorded in SJL and has not been found.
Posted January 2008. Reprinted from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, 2:37-8