Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Robert R. Livingston, 21 September 1803

To Robert R. Livingston

Monticello Sep. 21. 03

Dear Sir

The bearer hereof is mr Robert Carter, one of the sons of Colo. Charles Carter of Shirley in this state, our first citizen in point of wealth, and head of one of the oldest & most distinguished families in it. the son having past some time in the study of medicine & surgery in Philadelphia, now goes to London, Edinburgh, & Paris to pursue the same studies. apprehensive that in the present contentious state of Europe it may be necessary that a stranger should be known, & especially an American in France who may be so readily suspected of being an Englishman, he has been desirous that I should make known to you his true character & objects, as the person whose patronage in such a case would be most efficacious. I undertake therefore to assure you that you will be safe in any declarations it may be necessary to make as to the correctness of his character, and the innocence1 of his objects in visiting Europe, & particularly that he is not an Englishman, nor Anglo-man, but a native citizen of Virginia with whose family I have been intimate all my life, and whose person I have known from his infancy. I would also ask from yourself for him those attentions & counsels which may be useful to him & not troublesome to you. Accept my affectionate salutations & assurances of constant esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NNMus); addressed: “His Excellency Robert R. Livingston esquire Minister Plenipotentiary of the US. of America at Paris by mr Carter”; endorsed by Livingston; in a different hand: “A.O. 1st. July 1804 J. Walsh.” PrC (DLC); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Recorded in SJL with notation “by Robt. Carter.”

Recently widowed and dissatisfied with plantation life, robert carter sailed for Europe in October and returned to Virginia in 1805. He died in November of that year. His father died the following year, leaving an estate that included about 13,000 acres and over 700 slaves (Robert Carter to Hill, Anne, Lucy, and Thomas Carter, 12 Oct. 1803, in ViWC: Shirley Plantation Collection; New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 3 Dec. 1805; DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Richmond, 1998- , 3 vols. description ends , 3:57-9).

1MS: “innoncence.”

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