Staunton, Virginia

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

Thomas Jefferson made most of his trips to Staunton, the county seat of Augusta County, while actively practicing law from the years 1767-1773. Following this, there is no evidence he visited again until his final trip in 1818.

While in Staunton he 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 has not been ascertained. 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. Later, he engaged two men as his agents in Staunton, Samuel Clarke and John McDowell, 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. One result of this nail business, however, is that it is possible there are buildings remaining in Staunton constructed with Monticello nails.

Jefferson's last visit to Staunton was August 4-6, 1818. He was on his way to Warm Springs and stayed with Archibald Stuart.

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