Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Harvie, 14 January 1760

To John Harvie

Shadwell, Jan. 14, 1760.


I was at Colo. Peter Randolph’s about a Fortnight ago, and my Schooling falling into Discourse, he said he thought it would be to my Advantage to go to the College, and was desirous I should go, as indeed I am myself for several Reasons. In the first place as long as I stay at the Mountain the Loss of one fourth of my Time is inevitable, by Company’s coming here and detaining me from School. And likewise my Absence will in a great Measure put a Stop to so much Company, and by that Means lessen the Expences of the Estate in House-Keeping. And on the other Hand by going to the College I shall get a more universal Acquaintance, which may hereafter be serviceable to me; and I suppose I can pursue my Studies in the Greek and Latin as well there as here, and likewise learn something of the Mathematics. I shall be glad of your opinion and remain, Sir yr most humble servant

Thomas Jefferson, jr.

MS not located. Text from Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, “Letterpress Edition,” N.Y., 1892–1899 description ends i, 340, where it was printed, without signature, from a copy furnished by Dr. J. S. H. Fogg of Boston. Printed earlier in Randall, Life description begins Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson description ends , i, 19, from a copy furnished by TJ’s grandson, George Wythe Randolph, of Richmond. Search of the Fogg Autograph Collection in MeHi and of auction records has not located the original.

This earliest surviving letter of TJ’s, written at the age of sixteen from the home of his birth, is addressed to one of his guardians and reports a discussion of his education with another guardian—Col. Peter Randolph, 1708–1767, of Chatsworth on the James, cousin of TJ’s mother Jane Randolph (Randall, Life description begins Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson description ends , i, 19; Randolph, The Randolphs, p. 11).

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