From John Wayles Eppes
Monticello Sep. 25th. 1796.
To avoid the difficulties, which must ever attend personal applications, on subjects important and delicate, I have adopted the present mode of addressing you. A stranger to forms, and following the impulse of my feelings, I have ventured to indulge, and express, sentiments, for a part of your family, which ought perhaps, to have received your previous sanction. Could I hope, that should time and future attentions render me agreeable, my wishes may be crowned with your approbation, I should indeed be happy. A sincere, disinterested, affection, and an anxious wish for the future happiness of your daughter, are the only grounds, (moderate as they may appear) on which I have dared to entertain a hope that her decision may be yours. With sentiments of respect and esteem I am Dr Sir yours &c
Jno: W: Eppes
RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Th Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Sep. 1796 and so recorded in SJL.
Happiness of your daughter: this is the first letter dealing with the courtship and engagement of Mary Jefferson to Eppes. For the marriage arrangements, see Marriage Settlement for Mary Jefferson and Marriage Settlement for John Wayles Eppes, both 12 Oct. 1797. According to SJL, TJ exchanged six letters with Eppes between 9 Sep. 1795 and 2 June 1796, all of which are missing.