Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William W. Hening, 25 April 1815

To William W. Hening

Monticello Apr. 25. 15.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 15th never came to hand till yesterday. you may be assured that the MS. A. is not here. every book in the library has past twice thro’ my own hands, and twice more thro’ the hands of the numberer and packer, and we all are confident this is not among them. it is exactly the one described in the 1st vol. of your statutes pa. 121.

With respect to the MS. D. your information gives me great joy, inasmuch as it’s existence is established. I was wrong in saying it was sent with the others, and you are right in saying you recieved it from mr Randolph. the history of it is this. mr Randolph contemplating the writing a history of Virginia, borrowed all the MSS. from my library while I was in France. when he was to go on to1 reside with the General govmt as Atty Gen. he sent his books (and these MS. with them) to N. York. on sending them back from there to Philadelphia the box containing these MS. was found missing, & no enquiry could discover what was become of them. he communicated it to me, and we both considered them as lost. but some 2. or 3. years afterwards, on removing a pile of hides in the warehouse where his books had been stored this box was found & sent to him. he returned to me the MSS. but on comparing those he sent me with my catalogue, one was missing, & exactly the one I had always deemed the most valuable as comprehending the greatest number of the laws. I have long believed & deplored the loss of this volume. but the MS. D. is the very one, was overlooked by mr Randolph when he returned me the others; and I have no doubt you recieved it from him. it escaped my memory, when I wrote you my last letter that this was the very volume which had never been returned to me, and whi[ch] I therefore imagined without sufficient reflection, I had sent you with the rest. I shall be happy therefore to recieve, and replace it with it’s companions. Accept the assurance of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); edge trimmed; on verso of reused address cover to TJ; at foot of text: “Mr Hening”; endorsed by TJ.

Joseph Milligan was the packer.

Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols.; Sowerby, no. 1863; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 10 (no. 573) description ends 1:121, described the Virginia statutes of 5 Mar. 1624 (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1822), indicating that his edition was based on the handwritten copy in TJ’s possession and quoting TJ’s endorsement: “This was found among the manuscript papers of Sir John Randolph, and by the Honorable Peyton Randolph, Esqr. his son, was given to Thomas Jefferson.” The missing manuscript A was recovered in 1820 and sent to the Library of Congress (TJ to George Watterston, 1 Sept. 1820; TJ to Hening, 3 Sept. 1820).

In the spring of 1792 Edmund Randolph communicated to TJ that the box holding manuscripts borrowed from TJ had not been found in the New York City warehouse where it had been stored (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 37 vols. description ends , 23:295, 27:817). TJ never did recieve manuscript D (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1825) because Hening sent it directly to the Library of Congress by 1820 (Hening to TJ, 23 Sept. 1816, 19 Aug. 1820; TJ to Hening, 12 Oct. 1816).

1TJ here canceled “Phila.”

Index Entries

  • books; of state papers and public documents search
  • Hening, William Waller; and TJ’s collection of Va. laws search
  • Hening, William Waller; letters to search
  • Hening, William Waller; The Statutes at Large search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; loans books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives manuscript of Va. laws search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; requests return of books lent search
  • Library of Congress; manuscripts of Va. laws sent to search
  • Library of Congress; TJ prepares books for transportation search
  • Milligan, Joseph; assists with packing and transportation of TJ’s library search
  • Randolph, Edmund; and manuscript of Va. laws search
  • Randolph, Edmund; manuscript on Va. history by search
  • Randolph, Peyton (ca.1723–75); gives volume of laws to TJ search
  • Randolph, Sir John (1693–1737); manuscript collection of search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); sources for search
  • Virginia; laws of search
  • Virginia; TJ’s collection of laws of search