Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Francis W. Gilmer to Thomas Jefferson, 1 November 1814

From Francis W. Gilmer

Richmond 1st Novr 1814

Dear Sir.

My inclination to visit Philadelphia with Mr Correa which has been strengthened by every days acquaintance with h[im] has finally determined me to do so; and I must beg of you the favor which you were so kind as to promise, in giving me a letter to Doctr. Wistar. I am sensible, of the obligation which such a recommendation as yours will imp[ose] upon me of deserving it, & will promise my endeavours to do so. I am sensible too of the personal obligation which I owe to you for such a mark of your good opinion.

Mr Correa joins me in wishing you a long continuance of health & happiness

very sincerely yours &c

F. W. Gilmer

P:S: a letter will reach me in Washington within a fortnight of th[is] time, and at Philadelphia afterwards.

RC (MoSHi: Gilmer Papers); edge frayed, with missing text supplied from Richard Beale Davis, ed., Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and Francis Walker Gilmer 1814–1826 (1946), 31; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Dec. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

Francis Walker Gilmer (1790–1826), attorney, author, and educational emissary, was born at Pen Park in Albemarle County. Orphaned by the age of ten, he was taught French by TJ’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, attended a school in Georgetown, 1808–09, and graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1810. Gilmer then studied law under William Wirt in Richmond, served briefly in an artillery regiment during the War of 1812, and established a law office in Winchester. In 1818 he moved his practice to Richmond. Gilmer was keenly interested in a wide variety of topics. His publications included Sketches of American Orators (Baltimore, 1816), A Vindication of the Laws, Limiting the Rate of Interest on Loans (Richmond, 1820; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 11 [no. 676]), and one volume of the Va. Reports description begins Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1798–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with Va. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends (Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 10 [no. 584]). At TJ’s request, in 1824 Gilmer sailed to Great Britain to hire professors and buy books and equipment for the newly created University of Virginia. He succeeded in that endeavor, but the trip undermined his already fragile health. Although he accepted the university’s law professorship in the autumn of 1825, Gilmer died before he could take up his duties (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 ; Richard Beale Davis, Francis Walker Gilmer: Life and Learning in Jefferson’s Virginia [1939]; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:397–402, 409–10, 469; TJ to Gilmer, 11 Oct. 1825; Richmond Enquirer, 28 Feb. 1826; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 8:179–80).

Index Entries

  • Corrêa da Serra, José; friendship with F. W. Gilmer search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; friendship with J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; identified search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; letters from search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; requests letter of introduction search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; visit to Philadelphia of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Wistar, Caspar; TJ’s introduction of F. W. Gilmer to search