Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William C. Rives, 6 August 1809

To William C. Rives

Monticello Aug. 6. 09.

Dear Sir

Under the constant hope of an early departure for Bedford, I have been hitherto detained by the prevalence of a disease in our neighborhood, and particularly among my own people. altho’ abated, it still has not left us, and the importance of attention to it, still detains me here and for a time which cannot be ascertained. the expectation that every case might be the last, has prevented my sooner informing you of the delay, and proposing that my intended absence, which will be short,1 should no longer postpone the commencement of the course of study which you propose to undertake with us. should the situation of my people permit me to set out on my journey, before you come, I will leave with mr Bankhead the books which I would first recommend for your reading. with every desire to be useful to you I pray you to accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Rives Papers); addressed: “Mr William Reeves near Warminster”; franked; endorsed by Rives. PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ. Tr (DLC: Rives Papers); in the hand of Judith Page Walker Rives; copied within William C. Rives to Hugh B. Grigsby, 6 Apr. 1866.

William Cabell Rives (1793–1868), a native of Amherst County, began legal studies with TJ in 1809 after being removed from the College of William and Mary, apparently for dueling. He was admitted to the Charlottesville bar in 1814. Rives represented Nelson County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1817–20, and after moving to an estate called Castle-Hill, was delegate for Albemarle County, 1822–23. During a political career in which he was successively a Jeffersonian Republican, a Jacksonian Democrat, and a Whig, Rives’s subsequent offices included service in the United States House of Representatives, 1823–29, two appointments as minister to France, 1829–32 and 1849–53, three discontinuous intervals in the United States Senate between 1834 and 1845, and a year in the Confederate Congress. Between 1859 and 1868 he also published an important but uncompleted early biography of James Madison (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Bishop James Madison to TJ, 31 May 1809; Raymond C. Dingledine, “The Early Life of William Cabell Rives, 1793–1832” [master’s thesis, University of Virginia, 1941]).

1Preceding four words not in Tr.

Index Entries

  • Bankhead, Charles Lewis (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead’s husband); studies law under TJ search
  • Castle-Hill (Rives’s Albemarle Co. estate) search
  • dysentery; among slaves search
  • education; at Monticello search
  • health; dysentery search
  • law; books on search
  • law; TJ provides training in search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); schooling at search
  • Rives, William Cabell; identified search
  • Rives, William Cabell; letters to search
  • Rives, William Cabell; studies law under TJ search
  • slaves; health of search