Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge), 26 November 1813

To Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge)

Poplar Forest Nov. 26. 13.

My dearest Ellen

The situation in which I left your dear Mama makes me very anxious to hear of her during my stay here. uncertain whether this may not find her in bed, I address it to you to pray you to write me a line letting me know how she is. if it is done, on the reciept of this letter and put immediately into the post office of Charlottesville, it will still find me here. direct to me at Poplar Forest near Lynchburg. if you have heard any thing from your Papa since I left you, let me know it. indeed, as I shall see no newspaper till I get back, if it be known with you whether a stroke is struck either against Kingston or Montreal the news will be acceptable. I had a terrible journey up, thro two days of rain, which tho’ light, was nearly constant; but the roads dirtier & heavier than I have ever found them on this rout. the 2d day I was able to get but 25. miles, and on the 3d which brought me here I was from day-light to dark getting 34. miles. I was so well guarded that I was not at all wet, and my rheumatism is sensibly abated. according to my present prospect I shall be with you after an absence of three weeks. kiss your dear Mama for me, and deliver my affections to all the fireside assuring yourself of my tender love.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ.

Ellen (Eleonora) Wayles Randolph (1796–1876), the fourth child of Thomas Mann Randolph and TJ’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, shared her name with an elder sister who died in 1794. Born at Monticello, Randolph returned with her family to live there following her grandfather’s retirement from the presidency. She became one of TJ’s favorite grandchildren, often accompanying him on trips to Poplar Forest and Natural Bridge. In 1816, with his financial assistance, she visited Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, winning renown as an intelligent conversationalist. On 27 May 1825 in the Monticello drawing room, she married Joseph Coolidge, a Bostonian who had first visited TJ a year earlier. When the newlyweds settled in Boston, the separation proved difficult for both TJ and his granddaughter. Ellen Coolidge corresponded regularly with those who remained at Monticello but did not return until just after TJ’s death. In 1826–28 her mother stayed in Boston near the Coolidges while her two youngest children were educated there. Joseph Coolidge became a successful merchant whose business interests gave his wife several opportunities to live overseas for extended periods of time. By 1847 the Coolidges had returned to Boston. One of their six children was killed at the battle of Chickamauga in 1863 while serving as a Union army officer (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 , 1:89–99; Martha Jefferson Randolph to Elizabeth Trist, 31 May 1815 [ViHi: Trist Papers]; ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence, including Ellen Randolph [Coolidge] to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 18 Aug. 1817, Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Ellen Randolph Coolidge, 27 June 1825, and [in Coolidge Letterbook, 174–5] Coolidge to Henry Randall, 16 May 1857; Gaines, Randolph description begins William H. Gaines Jr., Thomas Mann Randolph: Jefferson’s Son-in-Law, 1966 description ends , 104, 166, 178, 185; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:16, 458–9, 502; Randall, Life description begins Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, 1858, 3 vols. description ends , 3:342–4; Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Autobiography of T. Jefferson Coolidge [1923], 3, 5, 7, 42, 51, 82, 87; Joseph Coolidge to TJ, 13 Oct. 1824; Richmond Enquirer, 24 June 1825; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:325; Boston Daily Advertiser, 24 Apr. 1876).

Index Entries

  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); identified search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); letters to search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); TJ seeks information from search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with grandchildren search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with M. J. Randolph search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; rheumatism search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); health of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); TJ inquires about search
  • War of1812; TJ requests information on search
  • weather; rain search
  • women; letters to; E. W. Randolph (Coolidge) search