Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Wythe, 26 March 1795

From George Wythe

26 of march, 1795.

G Wythe to T Jefferson

Can you contrive that people who want, may obtain, copies of the acts of general assembly, now to be found in your collection only, without trouble to yourself, and without danger of loss or detriment to the books? Farewell.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ and recorded in SJL as received 7 Apr. 1795.

This letter and TJ’s 18 Apr. 1795 response began the protracted but successful effort to provide public access to the collection of manuscript and printed acts of general assembly of the colony and state of Virginia that TJ had spent many years gathering in order to preserve it for posterity. Later this year Chancellor Wythe headed a committee appointed by the state legislature to publish Virginia laws relating to lands. For TJ’s endorsement of the project and call for its extension to encompass all Virginia statutes, which initially faltered but ultimately came to fruition in William W. Hening’s edition of The Statutes at Large, see Wythe to TJ, 1 Jan. and 27 July 1796, 1 Feb. 1797, and notes; TJ to Wythe, 12 Jan., 16 Jan. (two letters), 8 Aug. 1796, 22 Jan. 1797, and notes; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 1863; and 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 i, vii-xi.

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