Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Philip I. Barziza, 24 February 1817

To Philip I. Barziza

Monticello Feb. 24.1 17.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 14th came to hand last night. letters from mr Thweatt and mr Baker of the House of Representatives, and mr Cabell of the Senate (whose attention I had asked to see justice done you) had informed me that the legislature had declined acting on your case, as one which belonged to the courts of justice. my hope had been that they would give to you any right which might have resulted to the state by escheat: and it seems their opinion that there has been no escheat. the courts of justice will therefore have to decide on it, and I would advise you to prefer those of the state to the US. courts.

On the question of legal right, I really am not qualified to give you advice worth your notice. upwards of 40. years withdrawn from the practice of the law & from all familiarity with legal questions have rendered me entirely rusty on those subjects. the general view I have had was this. your grandmother, mrs Paradise, was a native citizen of Virginia, and did not lose that character by her residence in England. our laws Ch. 110. § 1. makes children, wheresoever born, of citizens, to be citizens themselves. your mother then, the countess Barziza was a citizen. but even were she not, the same laws Ch. 93. §. 18. makes descent thro’ an alien no bar, and the law of Congress 1802 c. 28. §. 4. respects not natural citizens, but those formally naturalized. the only doubt which occurs to me is, there being collateral heirs capable of recieving the descent at the moment it was cast by the death of mrs Paradise, whether it could be divested by your becoming subsequently a citizen. on this question, and on that whether the marriage settlement of mrs Paradise is entirely out of the question, the lawyers of the day are much better qualified to decide than I am. our courts being, as they should be, inaccessible to all private influence or application, I can only offer my good wishes for your success, because I believe it just in natural law, and assure you of my great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of a reused address cover from John Barnes to TJ; at foot of text: “Viscount Philip S. Barziza”; endorsed by TJ.

The letter from Archibald thweatt is accounted for above at the note to TJ to Simeon Theus, 17 Feb. 1817.

By section 1 of “An Act declaring who shall be deemed Citizens of this Commonwealth, and pointing out the mode by which the Right of Citizenship may be acquired or relinquished,” passed 23 Dec. 1792, children “wheresoever born, whose fathers or mothers are or were citizens at the time of the birth of such children, shall be deemed citizens of this commonwealth, until they relinquish that character in manner hereinafter mentioned.” Section 18 of “An Act to reduce into one the several Acts directing the course of Descents,” passed 8 Dec. 1792, confirmed descent thro’ an alien: “it shall be no bar to a party that any ancestor through whom he derives his descent from the intestate, is, or hath been an alien” (A Collection of All Such Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia, of a public & permanent nature, as are now in force [2d ed., Richmond, 1814], 235, 237, 290–1).

The law of congress passed 14 Apr. 1802 was “An Act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization, and to repeal the acts heretofore passed on that subject.” Section 4 established conditions under which children of naturalized citizens could be considered citizens (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 2:153, 155; Thomas Herty, A Digest of the Laws of the United States of America [Baltimore, 1800–02; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 10 (no. 589)], 2:104). For the 1769 marriage settlement, see TJ’s Abstract of Marriage Settlement of John Paradise and Lucy Ludwell Paradise and Sir William Jones’s notes on the same, both printed above at TJ’s 24 Dec. 1815 letter to Barziza.

1Above date TJ interlined and then deleted “for 23.”

Index Entries

  • A Digest of the Laws of the United States of America (T. Herty) search
  • An Act declaring who shall be deemed Citizens of this Commonwealth, and pointing out the mode by which the Right of Citizenship may be acquired or relinquished (1792) search
  • An Act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization, and to repeal the acts heretofore passed on that subject (1802) search
  • An Act to reduce into one the several Acts directing the course of Descents (1792) search
  • Baker, Jerman (1776–1828); and petition of P. I. Barziza search
  • Barziza, Lucy Paradise, Countess (Antonio Barziza’s wife; John and Lucy L. Paradise’s daughter); family of search
  • Barziza, Philip Ignatius; and L. L. Paradise estate search
  • Barziza, Philip Ignatius; letters to search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and petition of P. I. Barziza search
  • Herty, Thomas; A Digest of the Laws of the United States of America search
  • law; TJ provides legal advice search
  • naturalization; An Act to establish an uniform rule of Naturalization, and to repeal the acts heretofore passed on that subject (1802) search
  • naturalization; TJ on search
  • natural law; TJ on search
  • Paradise, Lucy Ludwell (John Paradise’s wife); estate of search
  • Paradise, Lucy Ludwell (John Paradise’s wife); marriage settlement of search
  • Thweatt, Archibald; and petition of P. I. Barziza search
  • United States; citizenship search
  • Virginia; citizenship laws in search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; Senate search