Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Gideon Fitz, 23 May 1809

To Gideon Fitz

Monticello May 23. 09.

Dear Sir

The bearer hereof is mr Isham Lewis, son of Colo Charles L. Lewis of Buckisland, whom you must have known while you resided in this part of the country. he is my nephew, & a young man of excellent dispositions, correct conduct, & good understanding, little aided by education. the shipwreck of the fortunes of his family leaves him without resource but in his own industry, & the defects in his education narrow his means of exertion. he has learned the common principles of surveying & therefore proposes to try himself in that line, and carries from me a letter to mr Pease, recommending him to his patronage. his capacity will enable him, with time, opportunity & practice, to attain any eminence in the higher branches of surveying which may be useful. arriving among you a stranger, I recommend him to your attentions, & pray you to take him by the hand & befriend him in the getting into emploiment. his entire want of resources will render early emploiment very important to him. any insight too which you can give him into the functions of his new vocation will be worthily bestowed on him. having his success & welfare much at heart, any service in his promotion which you can render1 him will be considered an obligation to Dear Sir

Your friend & servt.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Gideon Fitch”; endorsed by TJ.

Gideon Fitz, a native Virginian, worked as a carpenter at Monticello, 1802–03. TJ assisted with his education and in 1803 recommended him as a surveyor to Isaac Briggs, whom TJ had appointed surveyor of federal lands south of Tennessee. In 1806 Briggs appointed Fitz his deputy for the western district of Orleans Territory and sent him to manage surveying in Washington County, Mississippi Territory. Fitz’s descriptions of irregularities in territorial land policy led Treasury secretary Albert Gallatin to put him on the board of land commissioners for the western district of Orleans Territory in 1810. Fitz filled similar posts thereafter and was ultimately appointed surveyor of public lands in 1831. His correspondence with TJ during the latter’s retirement focused primarily on land policy and mutual engineering interests (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 , 2:1082; TJ to James Dinsmore, 1 Dec. 1802 [ViU: TJP]; Fitz to TJ, 31 Mar. 1803 [MHi]; Briggs to TJ, 2 May 1803 [DLC]; Fitz to TJ, 1 Nov. 1809; TJ to Gallatin, 4 Nov. 1809; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 9:882–3; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 4:158 [19 Feb. 1831]).

1Manuscript: “rendere.”

Index Entries

  • Briggs, Isaac; surveyor of federal lands search
  • education; at Monticello search
  • Fitz, Gideon; identified search
  • Fitz, Gideon; letters to search
  • Fitz, Gideon; TJ recommends I. Lewis to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Lewis, Isham (TJ’s nephew); letters of introduction for, from TJ search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); builders at search
  • Pease, Seth; TJ recommends I. Lewis to search
  • surveying; occupation of search
  • surveying; TJ provides training in search