Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Isaac A. Coles to Thomas Jefferson, 13 March 1809

From Isaac A. Coles

Presidents House Mar. 13. 1809.

Dear Sir,

The inclosed letters which have come to hand since you left this, were given me yesterday by Mr Madison with a request that I would forward them to you.

Joseph has just been to tell me that the Vessel on board of which your baggage was shiped, had got aground in the eastern branch, and had received so much injury that it was deemed unsafe for her to continue her voyage—we have thought it best under these circumstances to have the things put on board of an other Vessel (the Dolphin of York) which will sail in the course of a day or two—in this way we shall avoid the delay that we had at first apprehended, without incuring any additional expense.

Mr & Mrs Madison came here on the evening of the day that you went away, and Mr & Mrs Cutts on the day following. until my departure which cannot be delayed much longer, but which1 is not as yet fixed, I remain with them at Mr Madison’s request.

At present every thing is very much upon the old establishment, but I find several changes are contemplated. they are preparing to fit up the Secretary’s Office for the Presidents Cabinet, and the present Cabinet for a dining room by closing up the two windows to the West. Mr and Mrs Cutts occupy the suite of appartments in the South east corner of the building,2 and Mr & Mrs Madison those in the South West.

I fear Mr Madison has not been fortunate in his Choice of a Maitre d’Hotel. it is apprehended that in the irregular life he has been leading for some time he has acquired a habit of insobriety. I hear he was so drunk last night as to be incapable of attending to his duty. Robert is already3 evincing symtoms of discontent and I think it probable that he will not remain long. Joseph goes to day but will neither carry Mary nor any of his Children along with him—

I beg you to present me in the kindest manner to Mr & Mrs Randolph and their family, and to believe that towards yourself my heart will never cease to overflow with sentiments to which I have no power to give utterance

I. A. Coles.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Mar. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Robert Coles, Cloverfields, Albemarle County, 1970); first page only; in Coles’s hand; dated Mar. 1809. Enclosures: (1) Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours to TJ, 28 Nov. 1808 (MHi). (2) Jérome Pagowski to TJ, 14 Nov. 1808 (ViW: TC-JP).

Isaac A. Coles (1780–1841), planter and lawyer, was a 1798 graduate of the College of William and Mary who lived at Enniscorthy in Albemarle County. He and TJ regularly corresponded about agriculture and were both founding members of the Agricultural Society of Albemarle, with Coles as its first treasurer. He was personal secretary to TJ, who found him invaluable, during the latter’s second term as president. Coles served James Madison in the same capacity even after his appointment in January 1809 as a captain in the Light Dragoons, United States Army, but he gave up both posts and returned to Virginia shortly after scuffling in November 1809 with a congressman from Maryland. Coles rejoined the United States Army as a major in 1812 and was honorably discharged as a colonel in 1815. He represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1840–41 (William Runge, “Isaac A. Coles,” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940– description ends 14 [1954/55]: 49–57; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 1:49n, 2:150–1; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:316; Coles to TJ, 29 Dec. 1809; Coles to Rebecca Tucker Coles, [ca. 1 Mar. 1809] [Robert Coles, Cloverfields, Albemarle County, 1970]).

Dolley Madison’s sister Anna Payne cutts, her husband Richard Cutts, United States representative from the Maine district of Massachusetts, 1801–13, and their three sons lived in the Presidents House with the Madisons (Dolley Madison to John C. Payne, 21 Sept. 1809, Dolley Madison, Selected Letters description begins David B. Mattern and Holly C. Shulman, eds., The Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, 2003 description ends , 128; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, 1989 description ends ).

1Preceding seven words omitted in FC.

2Remainder of sentence omitted in FC.

3FC ends here.

Index Entries

  • Agricultural Society of Albemarle; officers of search
  • Albemarle County, Va.; Agricultural Society of search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; identified search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; letters from search
  • Cutts, Anna Payne (Richard Cutts’s wife) search
  • Cutts, Richard search
  • Dolphin of York (ship) search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; oversees transport of TJ’s belongings search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; travels to Monticello search
  • Dougherty, Mary (Joseph Dougherty’s wife) search
  • drunkenness; of J. Madison’s maitre d’hotel search
  • Enniscorthy (I. A. Coles’s Albemarle Co. estate) search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); arrives in Washington search
  • Madison, James; arrives in Washington search
  • Pagowski, Jérome search
  • President’s House; alterations by Madisons search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • Robert (J. Madison’s servant at the President’s House) search