Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Sr., 4 February 1790

To Thomas Mann Randolph, Sr.

Monticello Feb. 4. 1790.

My dear Sir

The marriage of your son with my daughter cannot be more pleasing to you than to me. Besides the worth which I discover in him, I am happy that the knot of friendship between us, as old as ourselves, should be drawn closer and closer to the day of our death. I am perfectly contented to leave to yourself the provision for your son. What you propose is liberal. I feel myself tied up by the demand of Farrell & Jones on Mr. Wayles’s representatives, and the jealousy they would entertain, as well as my co-representatives were I to follow the dictates of my heart on this occasion. Under these circumstances I propose to give to my daughter immediately my best plantation in Bedford, of 1000 acres of the Poplar forest tract, and 25. negroes little and big. But whatever we do, my dear friend, let us do it for them effectually. This cannot be, if we pass over the moment of their marriage. Marriage is in law a valuable consideration, and will protect them against any demand from any other quarter, or on any other consideration (unless indeed there were a prior mortgage). Your letter to me, and this to you, would be good against you and me: but nothing can be good against all the world but a deed duly executed and recorded. Come then, my dear Sir, and let us place them in security before their marriage. As soon as they shall have agreed on the day you shall know it (perhaps your son can tell it you now) and let me intreat you to come some days before it. Your anxiety for your son’s future welfare will I am sure reconcile you to the temporary inconveniences of the journey, which may be lessened by making short stages. The last must be from the point of fork, where you can be well lodged, and from whence the road is good. Should ill health or any other accident put off your coming, it will be better for them on the whole to delay the ceremony. My departure cannot possibly be prolonged an hour after the last day of this month. I am, with the most sincere esteem & attachment, Dr. Sir, your affectionate friend & servant,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (MHi). There is also in ViU a sheet containing a contemporary “accidental offset impression” of this letter—indeed two impressions, each upside down in reverse image to the other—on the verso of which is an outline plat survey of the tracts of land in dispute between TJ and John Harvie (see TJ to Harvie, 11 Jan. 1790; communication from Francis L. Berkeley, Jr., to the Editors, 8 Nov. 1956).

Randolph’s response, dated 15 Feb. 1790, is recorded in SJL as received 18 Feb. 1790. It has not been found, but it clearly was an acceptance of the proposal here made by TJ, for on the day that Randolph wrote he executed a deed to his son conveying to him the 950 acres of the tract in Henrico county called Varina, together with 40 slaves; for TJ’s corresponding deed to Martha of the best plantation in Bedford, together with 27 slaves, see under 21 Feb. 1790. See TJ to Randolph, 26 Feb. 1795, stating that Randolph’s letter of 15 Feb. 1790 mentioned for the first time the encumbrance “of only £1200 sterlg.” on Varina and that David Ross owed him £600 at that time and another £600 on 1 Feb. 1791. On the settlement respecting the demand of Farrell & Jones, see Vol. 15: 642–77; this settlement was much in TJ’s mind at this time, and the conference held at Monticello by the various parties at interest took place three days after the present letter was written. Randolph evidently arrived at Monticello early enough for the date of marriage to be advanced rather than delayed (see note to Madison, 14 Feb. 1790), for he was there by 21 Feb. 1790 according to the indenture of that date.

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