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Elizabeth Trist to Thomas Jefferson, 29 July 1814

From Elizabeth Trist

Bird wood Henry 29th July—14

Nothing is more grateful to my heart than assurances of friendship and remembrance from those I love and esteem. your favor therefore with the Book you may be assured was most joyfully received to hear that Mr Randolph had resign’d his Military Commissi[on] and that the family were all well gave a Zest to the pleasure, God grant that every blessing may be extended to them, that your health and spirits may be long preserved to give pleasure and comfor[t] to your family and friends—often do I triumph in your escape from the Helm before the storms became violent poor Mr Madison with all his precaution to steer clear of censure has got his full portion and I make no doubt he will be heartily tired of his situation before the time arrives when he can disburthen him self from the cares of state and eat his Hog meat and Homony, in his native Dwelling I never thought the Presidents an enviable situation and I do expect from the want of unanimity in our country that it will become worse and worse—I trembled at one time at the impending ruin of France and for the fate of Bonaparte I never contemplated his being let down so easily, he ought to rejoice at the change for he has a much greater chance of happiness himself his family and connections all liberaly provided for, I shou’d have been delighted at the restoration of the Bourbons, as they have settled matters, if I did not apprehend greater evils wou’d attend our own Country, we have little mercy to expect from great Britan She will now have it in her power to distress us more than ever, her well disciplined Armies will now be turn’d upon us her arrogance will increase with her late success and I have not the most distant hope that she will give us peace on terms such as we ought accept I shou’d not care about the Fisheries the Yankies are most interested in that trade and they deserve to suffer but the impressing our Seamen is what I can never be reconciled to, the rights of those brave men I hope will be contended for till there is not a being left to fight for them, Oh God! if we were only United I shou’d not fear them but I trust and hope there are true-Blooded Americans enough to prevent our being subdued—we have sustaind a heavy loss in the crew of the Essex but their bravery will reflect honor on their Country and immortalize their renown to the latest ages, I weep for the loss of my Countrymen, at the same time exult in their Glorious exits we now and then hear of Brilliant feats being perform’d by the land forces, the late news of the capture of Erie is pleasing I expect every week to hear of Chauncy engaging the British fleet on the Lakes but I dont suffer my self to be too Sanguine of our success in capturing them, but this I am certain of that our Brave Tars will do their duty, as to Canada I think we may as well give up the Idea of possessing that Country but if we can get command of the Lakes it will be a great point gain’d

I have been questioning Francis Gilmer as to the improvements at Monticello he tells me except an observatory everry thing remaind as when I left it. what exclaim’d I, are not the Porticoes compleated no, alas I fear that monument of taste will not long Survive the present possessor for if he does not finish them they will stand a poor chance of ever being compleated tho I have not the most distant prospect1 of ever visiting Albemarle again I feel interested in all that relates to you Mr Divers has done nothing towards compleating his establishment I am afraid you are both become weary of the world, I suppose it is natural as we advance in life to lose our energy of character, for I feel that mine has departed tho I some times think if I had the means I shou’d undertake to superintend building a comfortable House for I really am sickend with log cabins and want of conveniences but notwithstanding I feel more contented and happy than I have been for many years tho I am daily admonish’d that my race is almost run tho I am never Ill the feebleness of age has come upon me It may be increased by the continuel wet weather yesterday and last night the flood gates of Heaven were open’d upon us and the first this morning was that all was destroy’d on the low ground the mill carried way and some of our poor Neighbours will be ruin’d and what is more distressing I heard that all the mills in the Neighbourhood have shared the same fate of ours, we have heretofore been very fortunate and must find consolation as old Jemmy did in the loss of his Turkys that others have sufferd equally with ourselves—

Please to present me tenderly and affectionately to Mrs Randolph and all her dear connections Mr and Mrs Gilmer join me in sincere wishes for your health and long happiness

E— Trist

pray excuse my long epistles I fear I weary my friends by their want of conciseness I did not intend to obtrude so much on your time or patience and to have written to Mrs Randolph but I found that my paper was all consumed

RC (MHi); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Aug. 1814 and so recorded (as a letter of that date) in SJL.

The USS essex, under the command of Captain David Porter, was captured on 28 Mar. 1814 by the British after a bloody battle off the coast of Valparaiso, Chile. The first action in Major General Jacob Brown’s Niagara campaign was the capture of Fort erie on 3 July 1814 (Heidler and Heidler, War of 1812 description begins David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds., Encyclopedia of the War of 1812, 1997 description ends , 170–1, 174–5).

1Manuscript: “prospet.”

Index Entries

  • Birdwood (Gilmer family’s Henry Co. estate); E. Trist at search
  • Brown, Jacob Jennings; Niagara campaign of search
  • Canada; and U.S. fishing rights search
  • Canada; support for American conquest of search
  • Chauncey, Isaac; as U.S. Navy commodore search
  • Divers, George; health of search
  • Essex, USS search
  • fisheries, Canadian; U.S. rights to search
  • Fort Erie (Upper Canada) search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; and improvements at Monticello search
  • Gilmer, Mary House (Peachy R. Gilmer’s wife); sends greetings to TJ search
  • Gilmer, Peachy Ridgeway; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); administration of supported search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; abdicates search
  • Perceval, Spencer; “The Book!” or, The Proceedings and Correspondence upon the subject of the Inquiry into the Conduct of Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales (included in Book of Kings compiled by TJ;see also Book of Kings) search
  • Porter, David; naval service of search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and military appointment search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; friends and family of search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; letters from search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on War of1812 search
  • War of1812; E. Trist on search
  • War of1812; Niagara Campaign search
  • weather; floods search
  • women; letters from; E. Trist search
  • “The Book!” or, The Proceedings and Correspondence upon the subject of the Inquiry into the Conduct of Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales (S. Perceval; included in Book of Kings compiled by TJ) search