Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Francis Willis, 23 February 1812

To Francis Willis

Monticello Feb. 23. 12.


Your favor of Feb. 6. came to hand by our last post, and I have this day written to the Secretary at War on the subject of your request. I ought however to observe to you that it will be necessary for you to forward on to the Secretary at War letters or certificates of character from persons to whom you are personally known; and if they are from persons known at Washington, it will be so much the better. I have referred him to mr Nelson and mr Basset of Congress, on the presumption that you are personally known to them. I should further observe that the US. having institutions for the instruction of Midshipmen in the Navy, and Cadets in the Artillery, all their officers for those departments are now taken from those two corps; so that no person who has not been of those corps can have an appointment. it is only in the new regiments that persons can enter without having passed thro’ the lower grades. I shall be happy if on this occasion I may have been useful to the son of one who was among my early & most intimate friends, and with every wish for your success I tender you the assurance of my respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of text: “Francis Willis esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

Francis Willis (b. 1768) was the eldest son of TJ’s college friend Francis Willis (1744–91), of White Hall, near Gloucester Court House (Lyon G. Tyler, “The Willis Family,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., 6 [1897]: 27–9; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 16:165–6; 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 , 1:73). He did not receive a military appointment.

For Willis’s missing favor of feb. 6., see TJ to William Eustis, 23 Feb. 1812.

Index Entries

  • Bassett, Burwell; reference for Willis search
  • military; academy to train officers search
  • Nelson, Hugh; reference for F. Willis search
  • Willis, Francis (1744–91); TJ’s college friend search
  • Willis, Francis (b.1768); identified search
  • Willis, Francis (b.1768); letters to search
  • Willis, Francis (b.1768); seeks military appointment search