Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Marbois, 4 March 1781

To Marbois

Richmond Mar. 4. 1781.


I have been honoured with your letter of Feb. 5. Mr. Jones did put into my hands a paper containing sundry enquiries into the present state of Virginia, which he informed me was from yourself, some of which I meant to do myself the honour of answering. Hitherto it has been in my power to collect a few materials only, which my present occupations disable me from compleating. I mean however, shortly, to be in a condition which will leave me quite at leisure to take them up, when it shall certainly be one of my first undertakings to give you as full information as I shall be able to do on such of the subjects as are within the sphere of my acquaintance. On some of them however I trust Mr. Jones will engage abler hands, those in particular which relate to the commerce of the state, a subject with which I am totally unacquainted, and which is probably the most important in your plan.

I have the honour to be with sentiments of the highest esteem & respect Sir your most obedient & most humble sert.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (Bibl. Nat., Paris); endorsed, later, by Marbois: “M Jeffrerson Presidt. Virg relativt. a une Serie de questions qu. je lui adressai et qui donnerent occasion a son livre Notes on Virginia.” Dft (DLC); lacking the complimentary close; endorsed: “Monsr. de Marbois Secretary to the embassy of his most Xn. majty. at Philadelphia.”

Marbois’ letter of Feb. 5 has not been found. Mr. Jones … A paper: Marbois’ Queries concerning Virginia, printed under 30 Nov. 1780, q.v. I mean … to be … at leisure: Although TJ’s letters to John Page are missing, it is obvious from Page’s replies of 22 Sep. and 20 Oct. 1780 (qq.v.) that TJ contemplated retiring from the governorship at the end of his second term. My first undertakings … full information: TJ not only fulfilled his promise to Marbois, transmitting his replies to the queries on 20 Dec., but also envisaged his larger project of preparing his Notes on Virginia (TJ to Marbois, 20 Dec. 1781; to Charles Thomson, same date; Marie Kimball, Jefferson: War and Peace, ch. ix).

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