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Thomas Jefferson made most of his trips to Staunton, the county seat of Augusta County, while actively practicing law from 1767 to 1773. After this period, there is no evidence he visited again until his final trip in 1818.
While in Staunton, Jefferson stayed at the residence of his friend, Archibald Stuart. Family tradition says that the Stuart House, located on Church Street, was designed by Jefferson, but this claim has not been substantiated. Stuart served as Jefferson's lawyer in many instances and handled much of his business in the area.
When Jefferson began manufacturing nails at Monticello, he looked for agents in Staunton to handle the franchise there. He first engaged William Alexander, but ultimately had to bring suit against him in order to try to collect money owed for the nails. Jefferson's case was handled by Archibald Stuart; the final outcome of this litigation is not known.1 Later, he engaged Samuel Clarke and John McDowell as his agents in Staunton, but still the business was not a success. Jefferson had difficulty in supplying the nails at the right time in the right sizes, and his agents were slow in paying.2 One result of this nail business, however, is that it is possible that there are buildings remaining in Staunton that were constructed with Monticello nails.
- Jaclyn Wright, 7/13/07
- City of Staunton, Virginia.
- Konig, David T. "Jefferson, Thomas and the Practice of Law." In Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2008-. Article published December 12, 2012.
- 1. Jefferson to Stuart, September 5, 1797, in PTJ, 29:525. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 2. See, e.g., Jefferson to McDowell, September 25, 1798, in PTJ, 30:527. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 3. Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, August 4, 1818, in Family Letters, 423.