Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William W. Hening, 25 July 1809

To William W. Hening

Monticello July 25. 09

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 8th was recieved only on the 20th. I do not know that the publication of Newspapers was ever prohibited in Virginia. my collection of newspapers begins in 1741. but I have seen one newspaper of about 3. years earlier date, as well as I can recollect. The first laws printed in Virginia, was I believe the collection of 1733. till the beginning of our revolutionary dispute we had but one press, & that having the whole business of the government & no competitor for public favor, nothing disagreeable to the governor could be got into it. we procured Rind to come from Maryland to publish a free paper. I do not suppose there ever was a legal obstacle. It is now so long since I was conversant in our early history, and my mind has during that time been so entirely engrossed by affairs foreign to it, that it has become almost a blank as to what it ever possessed in that line. it retains indeed the terms Roanoake & Wampompeke, but not their import. I am not able therefore to inform you respecting them. on observing that you would want sessions acts (printed) I examined the state of my collection, & found that precisely the volume containing my printed laws from 1734. to 1772. is not in the library. having recieved often applications from courts & individuals for copies from that volume, I imagine it has been trusted to some one in the neighborhood to copy some act, & not returned. I shall immediately enquire for it & hold it at your service. I inclose you the part of Hening & Munford’s reports you were so kind as to send to me formerly, according to the request in your letter & salute you with esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Wm W. Hening esq.”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Hening and William Munford, Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (Philadelphia and Flatbush, N.Y., 1808–09; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 2093), vol. 1, nos. 1–2.

William Parks began the publication of newspapers in Virginia with the Williamsburg Virginia Gazette in 1736 (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 535). Parks also published the first laws printed: A Collection of all the Acts of Assembly, now in force, in the colony of Virginia (Williamsburg, 1733; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1833). In 1766 William rind established an opposition press in Williamsburg and challenged the official Virginia Gazette with his own newspaper of the same name (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1161; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 537). In response to a request from John Daly Burk, in 1805 TJ gave him access to his copy of printed laws from 1734. to 1772. via George Jefferson, who still had it in 1809 (TJ to Burk, 1, 12 June 1805 [DLC]; George Jefferson to TJ, 25 Aug. 1809; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1841).

Index Entries

  • Burk, John Daly; and TJ’s laws of Va. search
  • currency; Indian search
  • Hening, William Waller; letters from search
  • Hening, William Waller; Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (Hening & Munford) search
  • Indians; currency of search
  • Munford, William; Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (Hening & Munford) search
  • newspapers; collection of Va., owned by TJ search
  • newspapers; in Williamsburg search
  • newspapers; Virginia search
  • Parks, William search
  • Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (Hening and Munford) search
  • Rind, William search
  • roanoke (Indian currency) search
  • Virginia; law in search
  • wampompeke (Indian currency) search
  • Williamsburg, Va.; newspapers in search