Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Pleasants, 16 July 1812

To Samuel Pleasants

Monticello July 16. 12.

Sir

Wishing to make up a collection of the Sessions Acts of assembly for some time back, I take the liberty of applying to you, on the presumption, that being the printer of them, you are most likely to have it in your power to make the collection. if it be known how far down mr Hening’s collection will come, I would wish the collection to go back to that period. if this be not known, then I would desire it to go as far back as you can furnish them. the packet, if well wrapped in strong paper addressed to me near Milton, and committed to the stage from Richmond to Milton, will probably come safely and speedily. Accept the assurance of my respects

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Saml Pleasants”; endorsed by TJ.

Samuel Pleasants (d. 1814), printer, bookseller, and newspaper editor in Richmond, was a Quaker who volunteered for cavalry service during the Revolutionary War. By 1795 he was editor of the Virginia Gazette. And Richmond and Manchester Advertiser, which soon simplified its name to the Richmond and Manchester Advertiser. The following year Pleasants changed its name again to the Virginia Argus, gave it a more obvious Republican affiliation, and continued to publish it until his death. TJ subscribed to the paper and occasionally sent it items for publication. Pleasants printed a variety of books, including The Letters of Curtius, addressed to General Marshall (1798), an attack on John Marshall by John Thomson that had recently appeared in his newspaper and which he reprinted six years later; William Wirt’s Letters of the British Spy (1803), a popular commentary on social mores that had also first appeared in the Argus; a volume of poetry; and the first four volumes of William W. Hening’s landmark work, The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, 13 vols. (Richmond, 1809–23; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1863; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 10 [no. 573]). Pleasants became the official state printer in 1804, and as such he published the acts, journals, and codes produced by the Virginia General Assembly. He also did job-printing and published The Virginia Almanack. Pleasants sent TJ books and other items (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 4:353–4, 28:561, 30:124–5, 31:14–5, 164; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1136, 1142–3, 1148; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends nos. 576–9, 584, 1868–9, 4452; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:958, 1037; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:390, 392; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1806–07 sess.], 9–10; Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends 5:iv; Pleasants to TJ, 17 Aug. 1813, 26 Mar. 1814; Richmond Enquirer, 18 June, 5 Oct. 1814).

hening’s Statutes at Large eventually included laws passed between 1619 and 1792.

Index Entries

  • A Collection of all such Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia, of a public and permanent nature, as are now in force (S. Pleasants) search
  • Hening, William Waller; The Statutes at Large search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; orders books search
  • Pleasants, Samuel; A Collection of all such Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia, of a public and permanent nature, as are now in force search
  • Pleasants, Samuel; and collection of Va. laws search
  • Pleasants, Samuel; identified search
  • Pleasants, Samuel; letters to search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); publication of search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); TJ cites search