Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Zane, [ca. 1773–1778] [document added in digital edition]

To Isaac Zane

[ca. 1773-1781]

Dear Sir

You must give me leave to return you the inclosed, as I have laid aside the distressing trade of receiving money for serving my friends. the pleasure of doing them an acceptable office is the richest reward which can be conferred on me, and I never think them ungenerous but when they decline giving me an opportunity of proving this. the late occasion too was peculiarly sacred. the packet to mrs Jefferson, even tho’ it should contain a billet doux, shall be delivered safe & unopened. it will always give me pleasure to receive assurances of your friendship; but they must be such as may not distress me with fears that any mercenary principle should undeservedly intermix itself with that pleasure. I am with much esteem

Your friend & servt.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Private Collection, 2016); undated; addressed: “Mr Isaac Zane”; endorsed.

A Philadelphia Quaker, Isaac Zane (1743-95) moved to Frederick County, Virginia, during the 1760s and became the proprietor of the Marlboro Iron Works. In addition to the forge, which he worked with slaves and indentured convict servants, Zane owned much land and emerged as one of the Shenandoah Valley’s leading citizens. First elected to the House of Burgesses in 1773, a development that led to his expulsion from the Society of Friends, he subsequently represented Frederick and then Shenandoah County in the General Assembly until his death. Representing the former county at Virginia’s second revolutionary convention, he joined TJ on the committee charged with preparing the colony’s armed defense. Well-read and philosophically inclined, Zane developed a warm friendship with TJ, and although business setbacks plagued the later years of his life, he left TJ a small bequest (Roger W. Moss, Jr., “Isaac Zane, Jr., a ‘Quaker for the Times,’” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography description ends , 77 [1969], 291-306; William J. Van Schreeven and others, eds., Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence, 7 vols. [Charlottesville, 1973-83], 2:357-8, 366-7; Williamsburg Virginia Gazette (Pinkney), 16 Dec. 1775; Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette, 10 Oct. 1793; Leonard, General Assembly, 103, 105, 109, 112, 114, 119, 122, 129, 134, 137, 141, 147, 151, 155, 158, 162, 166, 170, 177, 181, 185, 189, 193, 197, 201; Vol. 40:619-20).

mrs Jefferson: this letter was certainly written during the ten-year span of TJ’s marriage and presumably was done when TJ and Zane were in the same location. The two participated in colony or state government sessions in Williamsburg or Richmond from March 1773, when Zane first became a burgess, until 1781, when Zane was a delegate and TJ was governor (MB, 1:xlvi-xlviii).

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