Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Hay, 24 August 1801

From George Hay

Richmond. August 24. 1801


I now send you the book, which you were so good as to lend me; for which you will be pleased to accept my thanks. It would have been returned at an earlier day, had I not put it into the hands of Mr. Wythe.

This book has been the occasion of my Committing three faults. I borrowed it without being authorised to ask such a favor: I lent it to a third person, (sed, clarum et venerabile nomen!) without the permission of the owner: and I have once more endeavored to investigate a Subject, which, experience ought to have taught me is placed beyond the reach of my understanding.—I will not commit a fourth by giving you the trouble of reading another Sentence.

I am with great respect, Your mo: ob. Svt.

Geo: Hay.

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 27 Aug. and so recorded in SJL.

George Hay (1765–1830) was a Williamsburg native and political writer who practiced law in Petersburg and actively campaigned on TJ’s behalf in the election of 1800. Relocating to Virginia’s capital shortly thereafter, he practiced in the state’s superior courts and became a supporter of James Monroe, who appointed him to minor offices and whose daughter he later married. Under the pseudonym “Hortensius," Hay published An Essay on the Liberty of the Press, in 1799 in Philadelphia (Evans description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends , No. 35605). He represented James Thomson Callender in the seditious libel case against him in federal circuit court in 1800 and prosecuted Aaron Burr for treason in 1807 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Sed, Clarum et Venerabile Nomen: but, with an illustrious and venerable name.

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