Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 24 March 1781

To Lafayette

Richmond Mar. 24. 1781.


I have the pleasure of receiving in your letter of the 20th. Genl. Washington’s of Dec. 8th. What you left beyond and what come to on this side the Atlantic, the services you have rendered there, and those you render here, your personal worth and Genl. Washington’s esteem for you, leave no room for addition to the measure of respect and gratitude we owe you. I beg leave also through you to present my respects to the Viscount de Noailles and Count Dames whom Genl. Washington has been so kind as to make known to me in his letter. Should the cares of your command permit, and curiosity lead you, to visit this miserable village I shall consider it as a circumstance of equal happiness and honour, as it will be to me an opportunity of attaining personal acquaintance with a character which stands so very high in my estimation, and with the other gentlemen notified in Genl. Washington’s letter. I have the honor to be with the most profound respect & esteem Sir Your &c.

Dft (DLC); with numerous corrections and deletions.

Gottschalk, Lafayette between Revolutions, p. 111, note 8, states that there is no positive evidence that TJ and Lafayette met before TJ went to France in 1784. But there is no doubt that the two men met in Richmond at least as early as 8 May 1781. On that day Lafayette met with the Council, TJ presiding, as the following from the board’s proceedings indicates: “Intelligence being received that the British army under Major General Phillips have landed at Brandon meaning to press southwardly, and that Lord Cornwallis is now advancing northwardly with a design probably of uniting their force-the members present on consulting with the Marquis Fayette, advise the Governor to order out … as many men as can find arms” (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 343). See also Lafayette to TJ, 27 Apr. 1781, and the postscript to TJ to Lafayette, 14 May 1781, below.

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