Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 23 January 1804

To Martha Jefferson Randolph

Washington Jan. 23. 04.

My dear Martha

Our Milton post not having come in last night, we are without news from you. I suppose he has been delayed by the weather, a severe snow storm having begun yesterday morning & still continuing. the snow is supposed to be now a foot deep, and is still falling with unabated fury. as it is the first, so I hope it will be the last of our severe winter weather. it is so tempestuous that I presume Congress will hardly meet to-day; & the rather as they have nothing pressing. the little before them will permit them to proceed at leisure, and finish when they please, which I conjecture will be about the 2d. week of March. I expect that mr Eppes will leave it before it rises in order to be with Maria at the knock of the elbow in February. I hope she will keep up her spirits. should she be later than she has calculated, perhaps we may all be with her. altho’ the recurrence of those violent attacks to which Francis is liable, cannot but give uneasiness as to their character, yet be that what it will, there is little doubt but he will out-grow them; as I have scarcely ever known an instance to the contrary, at his age.—On Friday Congress give a dinner on the acquisition of Louisiana. they determine to invite no foreign ministers, to avoid questions of etiquette, in which we are enveloped by Merry’s & Yrujo’s families. as much as I wished to have had yourself & sister with me, I rejoice you were not here. the brunt of the battle now falls on the Secretary’s ladies, who are dragged in the dirt of every federal paper. you would have been the victims had you been here, and butchered the more bloodily as they would hope it would be more felt by myself. it is likely to end in those two families putting themselves into Coventry until they recieve orders from their courts to acquiesce in our principles of the equality of all persons meeting together in society, & not to expect to force us into their principles of allotment into ranks & orders. pour into the bosom of my dear Maria all the comfort & courage which the affections of my heart can give her, and tell her to rise superior to all fear, for all our sakes. kiss all the little ones for me, with whom I should be so much happier than here; and be assured yourself of my tender & constant love.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NNPM); at foot of text: “Mrs. M. Randolph.” PrC (ViU: Edgehill-Randolph Papers); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

knock of the elbow: TJ to Mary Jefferson Eppes, 26 Dec. 1803.

On Friday, the 27th, a large body of congressmen, presided over by Samuel Smith, gave a dinner in honor of the peaceful acquisition of Louisiana. The president, vice president, department heads, and other officers of government were invited. TJ was escorted by several members of both houses and leaders of the Washington militia to Stelle’s Hotel, the place of the banquet. A discharge of artillery announced his arrival, and a band played “Jefferson’s March” to welcome him. “An assemblage so numerous,” one paper wrote, “to celebrate an event, at once so glorious and so happy, may not occur again for centuries to come” (Washington Universal Gazette, 2 Feb.).

brunt of the battle: TJ was undoubtedly referring to a letter printed initially in Philadelphia’s Gazette of the United States in which Dolley Madison, Margaret Smith, Hannah Gallatin, and especially Dorcas Osgood Dearborn faced ridicule for offending Elizabeth Merry (Gazette of the United States, 13 Jan.; Canons of Official Etiquette, [after 22 Dec. 1803]; TJ to William Short, 23 Jan.).

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