Monday, May 31, 2010

may 31, 1810 (thurs.)

Yesterday was not a very good day. Mr. Jefferson spent the morning writing to lawyers to try to get together the papers needed for his defense in a lawsuit.

Three years ago there was a land dispute in Louisiana. A certain Jean Gravier claimed that he owned some land in the Mississippi delta below New Orleans, and fenced it in. The governments and people of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans claimed it was public land, and, indeed, it had been used as such for years. It turns out the situation was somewhat complicated, but according to the best information President Jefferson and his cabinet had, the land was federal property. Mr. Gravier was evicted as an intruder in 1808.

Edward Livingston, a high-powered lawyer who happens to have a financial interest in the land in question, is now suing Mr. Jefferson for trespassing.

That's right; the former president, now a private citizen, is being sued as an individual for something he did in an official capacity while in office. So much for retirement from the cares of public life.

On the good side, Monticello finally got some rain yesterday after almost a month of drought. (Right after Mr. Jefferson wrote to Jemmy Madison complaining about the "desperate" dry spell. Oh, well.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

may 2, 1810 (wed.)

Mr. Jefferson accepts the honor of membership into the Dutch Royal Institute of Sciences. King Louis Bonaparte (yes, brother of that Bonaparte -- Napoleon controls much of Europe at this time) gave his approval of the invitation last May, but the letter from Gerardus Vrolik, the Secretary of the Society has taken a year to arrive.

Mr. Jefferson's reputation as a scholar of natural philosophy has spread far and wide indeed. He's sending his reply via Sylvanus Bourne, the United States Consul at Amsterdam, to make sure it gets through as quickly and surely a possible.