Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 24 September 1797

To Francis Eppes

Monticello Sep. 24. 1797.

Dear Sir

It is with sincere pleasure I learn that Wayles1 and Maria have concluded to run their course of life together. From his prudence I presume2 he has not proceeded thus far without knowing it would be agreeable to Mrs. Eppes and yourself. I have thought it right on this occasion to do precisely what I did on a former similar one. I have made what I gave to my daughter Randolph the measure of what I propose to give to Maria at present: with this difference, that, instead of lands at Poplar Forest, I propose my upper tract here of 819 1/2 acres, lying opposite to Monticello.3 For this tract with thirty one negroes, corresponding almost4 individually in value with the individuals given on the former occasion, I shall execute a deed expressing to be in consideration of the marriage and of the advancement he recieves from you,5 considerations which being deemed valuable in law,6 shelter them against all accidents. As you had before executed a conveyance to Wayles7 for the Hundred, nothing would now remain to be done on your part, had not the occasion presented a ground for reexecuting it on higher considerations, to wit of the marriage, and the advancement Maria receives from me,8 which render the conveyance firmer than that of natural affection, expressed in the former one. I have therefore prepared a deed which I inclose for this purpose. It is a surrender of the estate of the Hundred from Wayles to yourself, and a reconveyance to him at a single operation.—So far on the supposition that he keeps the Hundred. But he tells me you would not be averse to the exchanging Angola for that. This would certainly be a most important9 object for him, not only as to present convenience, but in considering his future interests here and in Bedford. Angola would, with those, form a circuit practicable enough to be regularly attended while in one hand, and of convenient communication if given to different members of a future10 family,11 a circumstance of no small comfort in life. On this idea I have prepared a second deed, which is also inclosed, and is an Exchange of the two tracts between you, ingrafted on the considerations of marriage and advancement.12 You will execute which you please. Any difference in value, if necessary, can be settled by yourself in some separate paper.13 The deed on my part cannot be executed till I know which of these you prefer, as it must be grounded on that fact.   I have given lands here rather than in Bedford, because their inclinations concur with my wishes that they should live here. I consider them as equal in value to those I gave Martha; but whether they are or not, will make little odds, as on any future division of my property between them, I shall establish the principle of Hotchpot. In the mean time a plantation here will furnish him daily employment, which is necessary14 to happiness, to health and profit. As I am at home eight months in the year, I shall wish them to15 be here with me during that time; and the four winter months they can divide between their other friends and their affairs at Angola. This will put off the expence of building till it shall be convenient; and remove also to a distance16 that of housekeeping,17 so that they may begin the world square at an age when they will be disposed to keep themselves so.

I have been thus lengthy, because I thought it best to be explicit for your satisfaction on a subject which cannot but be interesting to you.

The ceremony of the marriage happens to come precisely when our house will be unroofed. I shall endeavor however to retard the uncovering one end if possible, till it is over. This will enable us to place Mrs. Eppes and yourself, and the younger members of the family18 under cover, if you can be of the party, as I hope you will. Against another summer I hope I shall have good accomodations for you, and that the family intercourse may be revived on the19 footing of old times.20 Accept assurances of the sincere and21 constant esteem of Dear Sir Your affectionate22 friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (MHi); at foot of first page: “F. Eppes esq.”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Dft (ViU: Edgehill-Randolph Papers); with numerous emendations, the most important of which are noted below. Enclosures: (1) Marriage Settlement for John Wayles Eppes printed at 12 Oct. 1797. (2) Marriage Settlement for John Wayles Eppes, 1797, in which Francis and Elizabeth Eppes convey Angola, a tract of land of 3,419.75 acres in Cumberland County on the north side of the Appamattox River adjoining lands held by Henry and Anne Skipwith, being the whole of the lands held by Francis and Elizabeth Eppes “in that body from the late John Wayles father of the said Elizabeth,” to their son upon marriage to Mary Jefferson in exchange for the Bermuda Hundred lands on the James River in Chesterfield County previously deeded to John Wayles Eppes by his parents, the exchange to be made upon payment of five shillings (MS in MHi, entirely in TJ’s hand, incomplete, indented, partially dated, with unfilled blanks for day and month; Dft in CSmH).

For the legal rationale for reexecuting the deed by which John Wayles Eppes inherited his family’s Bermuda Hundred tract to place it on higher considerations of marriage, see note to the Bill in Chancery of Wayles’s Executors against the Heirs of Richard Randolph, [on or before 2 Mch. 1795].

According to SJL, TJ exchanged six letters with Eppes between 6 Nov. 1796 and 21 June 1797, none of which has been found. Another six letters, exchanged between 28 Nov. 1797 and 10 Nov. 1800, are also missing.

1Word interlined in Dft in place of “[our?] Jack.”

2Word interlined in Dft in place of “conclude.”

3In Dft TJ here canceled “As I think their inclinations concurring with my wishes that they should fix here, I have supposed this better.”

4Word interlined in Dft.

5Preceding eight words interlined in Dft, none of which are underlined.

6Preceding five words interlined in Dft and “valuable” is not underlined.

7Word interlined in Dft in place of “Jack.”

8Preceding seven words interlined in Dft.

9Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “capital.”

10Word interlined in Dft.

11Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft.

12Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

13Preceding sentence interlined in Dft.

14Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft.

15In Dft TJ first wrote “<live> be with me, and during” before altering the following passage to read as above.

16Preceding five words interlined in Dft.

17In Dft TJ first wrote “till the delirium shall be over to which young people are subject of having their house always full of company, the resort of constant company” before altering the remainder of the sentence to read as above.

18Preceding seven words interlined in Dft.

19In Dft TJ first wrote “old plan” before altering the remainder of the sentence to read as above.

20In Dft TJ here canceled “Present my affectionate invitations and respects to Mrs. Eppes, <with my hopes of seeing her, as well as they younger members of the family, and> and the younger members of the family with my expectations of seeing her and them as well as yourself.”

21Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

22Word interlined in Dft.

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