Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, 6 May 1809

To Thomas Jefferson Randolph

Monticello May 6.1 09.

Dear Jefferson

Your’s of the 28th ult. came to hand by our last post. I have consulted your father on the subject of your attending mr Godon’s lectures in mineralogy, and we consent to it so long as the Botanical lectures continue. we neither of us consider that branch of science as sufficiently useful to protract your stay in Philadelphia beyond the termination of the Botanical lectures. in what you say respecting the preservation of plants, I suppose you allude to mr Crownenshield’s specimens which I shewed you. but I could not have promised to give you his method because I did not know it my self. all I know was from Genl Dearborne, who told me that mr Crownenshield’s method was, by extreme pressure (with a screw or weight) on the substance of the plants but that he could never make it adhere to the paper until he used garlick juice either alone, or in composition with something else. I communicated to mr Randolph your wish respecting the specimens of antimony. but how shall we convey them. by an unintended omission in the act of Congress allowing my letters to be free, they omitted those from me, mentioning those to me only. it will be corrected at their ensuing session as the letters of my predecessors were privileged both to & from. and in truth the office of president commits the incumbent, even after he quits office, to a correspondence of such extent as to be extremely burthensome. to avoid the expence of postage to mr Peale, I inclose his letter in yours, that it may be paid out of your funds. I send you one also for mr Hamilton, open for your perusal. when read, stick a wafer in it before delivery. attend particularly to the assurances of using his indulgence with discretion and to the study of his pleasure grounds as the finest model of pleasure gardening you will ever see. I wrote to Lemaire to send me some Vanilla & vinegar syrop, & that you would pay him for it on presenting my letter. I must desire you to send me 9 feet of brass chain to hang the Alabaster lamp you got for me. I inclose you 4. links as a specimen of the kind & size. this was furnished me by Messrs Caldcleugh & Thomas, stationers No 66. & 68. Chesnut street at 67. cents per yard, who probably can furnish the same now. I must also pray you to get for me a gross of vial-corks of different sizes, & 4. dozen phials of 1. 2. 3. & 4. ounces, one dozen of each size—the largest mouthed would be the best as they are for holding garden seeds. I have not yet seen Dr Watson the family here are all well, and I recollect no small news of the neighborhood worth mentioning. we wish to hear from you oftener. God bless you.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. the above articles to be packed in a box addressed to Gibson & Jefferson & sent by water. it would be well if Lemaire’s articles were packed in the same box, as they would all come safer in one than two boxes. but for this purpose you must see him immediately, or he will have sent away his alone. I must pray you to put half a dozen pounds of scented hair powder into the same box. none is to be had here, & it is almost a necessary of life with me. to spare your funds I shall have the postage of this package paid here.

PoC (MHi); at foot of first page: “T. J. Randolph”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosures: (1) TJ to Charles Willson Peale, 5 May 1809. (2) TJ to William Hamilton, 7 May 1809.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792–1875) was born at Monticello, the eldest son of Martha Jefferson Randolph and Thomas Mann Randolph. TJ supervised his grandson’s education at home and in Philadelphia and Richmond. Randolph studied botany, natural history, and anatomy before becoming a farmer. Soon after his marriage in 1815 to Jane Hollins Nicholas, the daughter of Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas, Randolph took over the management of his grandfather’s affairs and displayed an aptitude for finance. In 1817 the young couple moved from Monticello to nearby Tufton, where they raised twelve children. As chief executor of TJ’s estate, Randolph fought a long and ultimately successful battle to settle his grandfather’s debts, although it meant the sale of Monticello and the family’s removal to Edgehill. He published the first collection of TJ’s writings in four volumes in 1829. Randolph served the University of Virginia as a visitor, 1829–57, and rector, 1857–64. Six times between 1831 and 1843 he represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he supported the gradual emancipation and deportation of slaves. Randolph also sat in the state constitutional convention of 1850–51 and voted for secession at the Virginia convention of 1861 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Shackelford, Descendants description begins George Green Shackelford, ed., Collected Papers to Commemorate Fifty Years of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson, 1965 description ends , 76–88).

Randolph’s letter of the 28th ult., not found, is recorded in SJL as received from Peale’s Philadelphia Museum on 3 May 1809. Late in 1808 William Bentley sent botanical specimens assembled by TJ’s recently deceased friend Jacob Crowninshield (TJ to Bentley, 29 Dec. 1808 [NNGL]; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1074). During its first session the Eleventh Congress passed a bill granting TJ the franking privilege on outgoing letters despite objections from Nathaniel Macon (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers. description ends , 11th Cong., 1st sess., 448 [27 June 1809]). TJ had purchased lamps and chains from caldcleugh & thomas in 1804 and 1807 (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1140, 1209). He probably wanted the vial-corks and phials to equip his new seed press (Stein, Worlds description begins Susan R. Stein, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, 1993 description ends , 293).

1Number interlined in place of “8.”

Index Entries

  • antimony; rumored source of search
  • Bentley, William (of Virginia); sends botanical specimens search
  • Caldcleugh & Thomas (Philadelphia mercantile firm) search
  • Crowninshield, Jacob; Hortus Siccus search
  • Dearborn, Henry; consults with TJ on botany search
  • food; vanilla search
  • food; vinegar syrup search
  • franking privilege; of TJ search
  • furniture; seed press search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and food acquired by TJ search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and household articles acquired by TJ search
  • Godon, Silvain; mineralogical lectures of search
  • hair powder search
  • Hortus Siccus (Crowninshield) search
  • household articles; alabaster lamp search
  • household articles; hair powder search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; franking privilege search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; landscape design search
  • lamps, alabaster; brass chain for search
  • Macon, Nathaniel; and franking privilege for TJ search
  • mineralogy; lectures on search
  • Randolph, Jane Hollins Nicholas (Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s wife; Wilson Cary Nicholas’s daughter) search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); children of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); identified search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); letters from accounted for search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); letters to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); pays TJ’s account in Philadelphia search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); arrangements for T. J. Randolph’s schooling search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); children of search
  • seed press; vials for search
  • syrup; of vinegar search
  • Tufton (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); T. J. Randolph resides at search
  • vanilla; TJ orders search
  • vinegar; syrup search
  • Virginia, University of (Charlottesville); visitors of search
  • Watson, Dr. search