Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Page, 9 December 1780

From John Page

Rosewell Decr. the 9th. 1780.

My dear Jefferson

Yours in which you desire a Copy of the List of Tithe’s, and of my Journal of the Weather, came through such a circuitous Chanel that it was long after the Date of it before it reached me. As to the List I gave it in to the Society without taking a Copy of it, and suppose it is now in the Hands of the Secretary. My Meteorological Journal I took back, as I did all the Papers of my own Compositions which I had given in, finding that no one had any Inclination to attend to them. The Journal was in a mutilated State when I found it among the Society’s Papers. If ever I have Leasure I will collect from it what may be worth your Acceptance. The Journals I have kept during the War are not much [to] be relied on, as I have not been able to pay that [atten]tion to many Circumstances of the Winds and Weather which [are required?] of [an ac]curate and faithful Journalist. As to the Ombrometrical [observa]tions I have relied altogether, since the Commencement of the War, on Mr. Jameson, whose Fidelity and Accuracy before the War I had experienced, and who I knew had continued his Observations from the Time I discontinued mine to the last Day we were together in Wmsburg. I therefore recommend it to you to apply to him for a Copy of his Journal. I shall be happy if you will make good your Threats, I mean of being very troublesome to me in this Way: but it gives me no small Uneasiness to find, from Reports and those confirmed by some Passages in one of Your Letters, that I am not likely to receive those agreable Tasks from you unless your Country loses the Benefit of your Services in the Office you now hold. I know your Love of Study and Retirement must strongly solicit you to leave the Hurry, Bustle, and Nonsense your station daily exposes you to. I know too the many Mortifications you must meet with, but 18 Months will s[oon] pass away. Deny yourself your darling Pleasures for th[at] Space of Time, and despise not only now, but forever, the Impertinence of the silly World. All who know y[ou] know how eminently qualified you are to fill the s[tation?] you hold, and that Circumstances may happen within the Compass of the Time above alluded to, which may requ[ire] the Exertions of greater Abilities than can be fou[nd in] any other Person within this State. I know not who besides yourself, and R. H. L.—and he I suppose is too unpopular to be thought of—we have, can possibly with tole[rable] Reputation to the State manage the important […] which may occur. This I can tell you with [candor?] is the Opinion of others as well as of myself. As [for me,] if my Abilities were ever so well suited to that arduo[us …] the Duty I owe my large Family and the Situation of m[y] Affairs would forbid my undertaking it, especially as I [every?] Day find I can be of more service even to the publ[ic] whilst at Home than any where else. Let me D[ear] Jefferson conjure you not to think of resigning. Go on serve out the Time allowed by the Constituti[on.] Present our Compts. and best Wishes to Mrs. Jefferson and believe me to be with Sincerity your Friend and most obedt.

John Page

RC (DLC); MS mutilated.

TJ’s letter to which this is a reply is unfortunately missing; it contained requests for data which TJ doubtless wished to include in his answers to Marbois’ Queries, q.v., under date of 30 Nov. 1780. The society: Probably the Virginia Society for Advancing Useful Knowledge, organized in 1773, of which Page was charter vice-president and David Jameson was charter treasurer (Va. Gaz. [p & d], 13 May 1773).

The time allowed by the constitution: Page’s reference above to “18 Months” indicates that he thought TJ’s term was at mid-point and would end in June 1782, three years from his first election to office. Actually, the Constitution of 1776 provided that the governor should be elected annually and stipulated that he should “not continue in office longer than three years successively, nor be eligible until the expiration of four years after he shall have been out of that office” (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 115).

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