Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to —— Hite, 29 June 1796

To —— Hite

Monticello June. 29. 96.


The bearer hereof is the Duke de Liancourt one of the principal noblemen of France and one of the richest. All this he has lost in the revolutions of his country, retaining only his virtue and good sense which he possesses in a high degree. He was president of the National assembly of France in it’s earliest stage and forced to fly from the proscriptions of Marat. Being a stranger and desirous of acquiring some knolege of the country he passes thro’, he has asked from me to introduce him to some person in or near Winchester. But I too am a stranger after so long an absence from my country. Some apology then is necessary for my undertaking to present this gentleman to you. None is better than that it is the general interest of our country that strangers of distinction passing thro’ it should be made acquainted with it’s best citizens and those most qualified to give favorable impressions of it. He well deserves any attentions you will be pleased to shew him. He would have had a letter from Mr. Madison to you, as he was to have visited Mr. Madison at his own house, being well acquainted with him. But the uncertainty whether he has returned home, and a desire to see Staunton turns him off the road at this place. I beg leave to add my acknolegements to his for any civilities you will be pleased to shew him and to assure you of the sentiments of esteem with which I am Sir Your most obedt & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Hite”; recorded in SJL as addressed to “Colo. Hite.”

The intended recipient of this letter was probably Isaac Hite, Jr. (1758–1836), of Frederick County, Virginia, even though he was always addressed as “major” (his father, who was addressed as “colonel,” had died on 28 Sep. 1795). An officer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at the College of William and Mary before serving as an aide to General Peter Muhlenburg at the siege of Yorktown, Hite married Nelly Conway Madison, sister of James Madison, in 1783, settled a few miles from his father, who lived at Long Meadows near Strasburg and Winchester, and, in the 1790s, built his own mansion house, Belle Grove (Madison to TJ, 5 Oct. 1794; T. K. Cartmell, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants: A History of Frederick County, Virginia [Winchester, Va., 1909], 252–7; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., iv [1896], 213–14, 219–21, 245–6, x [1902], 120–2, 2d ser., v [1925], 274–5).

This letter was not delivered (see La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt to TJ, 11 July 1796).

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