Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Waller Holladay, 4 July 1800

To Waller Holladay

Monticello July 4. 1800.


Your favor of the 18th. ult. came to hand on the 26th. I have examined my papers on the subject of it, & find that I have recieved but one letter from mr Littlepage since I returned to America, & that was dated at Warsaw Dec. 26. 1791. the want of conveyances as well as the want of matter interesting to him in his then position, prevented my writing to him. I have since been informed (and I think it was by General Kosciuzko) that on the dismemberment of Poland he went to Petersburg & was employed by the emperor. I think the best means of obtaining intelligence of him would be to write to mr King, Minister Plenipotentiary of the US. at London, where a Russian minister resides, who in all probability can at once give information as to mr Littlepage. if he cannot, he can in a very short time obtain it from Petersburg, and will doubtless readily do it on mr King’s request. I am satisfied mr King will with pleasure take the trouble of obtaining & communicating the information you desire, on your own application. I would willingly offer my service, but that I am not in correspondence with mr King, and am satisfied that your request alone will suffice to engage him in the enquiry.

I am Sir Your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViHi: Holladay Family Papers); addressed: “Mr.Waller Holladay Louisa to the care of Messrs. David & James Blair Fredericksburg”; franked; postmarked Milton, 5 July. Tr (same); in Lewis Holladay’s hand with note at foot of text from Lewis Holladay to Waller Holladay, dated 18 July 1800, stating that the above is a true copy of the letter and that new writs are ready to be served on them.

The only extant copy of Holladay’s favor of 18 June probably is the draft of his letter to TJ printed at 1 June.

In 1797, after the dismemberment of Poland, King Stanislas II was removed to St. Petersburg, where he died in February 1798 before Lewis Littlepage was able to join him. Littlepage remained in Warsaw until 1800. Waller Holladay sought news of his half-brother because suits seeking control over Littlepage’s property had been brought by his sister Mary and her husband Robert S. Coleman. In May 1798 the Colemans contended that Littlepage had not been heard from and therefore was presumed to be dead. They were suing John Carter Littlepage and Lewis Holladay over ownership of slaves (Boand, Lewis Littlepage, description begins Nell Holladay Boand, Lewis Littlepage Richmond, 1970 description ends 240–1, 255–76; Curtis Carroll Davis, The King’s Chevalier: A Biography of Lewis Littlepage [Indianapolis, 1961], 362–3).

For TJ’s efforts to gain intelligence on Littlepage, see Julian Ursin Niemcewicz to TJ, 2 Aug. 1800.

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