Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert S. Coleman, 20 October 1801

From Robert S. Coleman

Fredrixbürg 20th October 1801

Dr sr

My friend Mr John Dawson wrote to you Last October for Information Respecting Lewis Littlepage, your Answer to him was handed to me, Carter Littlepage haveing a parte of Lewis’es property in possestion, And haveing disposd of a parte And attempting to dispose of the Hole of the Said property he being Insolvent as appears I haveing Lewis Littlepages will in my possestion I have Indeaverd to prevent the Destruction of the property—many Reports have arisin about the Return of Mr Lewis Littlepage And I have bean informd you have had Very Late Acpts of him—If So will Esteem It a Singlar faver to Communicate the Latest to me by a Line to Fredrixbürg, which will Give releaf to his Sincear friends, and may be a means of Saveing the property—

I am Dr sr Yr Hble sert

Robt. S. Coleman

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 22 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

Robert Spilsbe Coleman was the brother-in-law of Lewis Littlepage. In court filings of 1798 and 1800 over the ownership of slaves, Coleman and his wife, Mary Littlepage Coleman, contended that Littlepage, who had seemingly disappeared in Europe for several years, was dead. The family had since learned that Littlepage was alive. Littlepage considered Coleman’s lawsuits “unjustifiable” and deemed his brother-in-law the “shame & plague of our family.” Littlepage referred to Mary Coleman as his “unhappy, deluded Sister” (Curtis Carroll Davis, The King’s Chevalier: A Biography of Lewis Littlepage [Indianapolis, 1965], 116, 362–3, 366–7, 387; Nell Holladay Boand, Lewis Littlepage, [Richmond, 1970], 270–6; Vol. 32:3–4, 40).

It is likely that the letter from John Dawson was one dated 30 Sep. 1800, and that TJ wrote his answer a few days later, on 3 Oct. Neither communication has been found (Vol. 32:217n).

Acpts: accounts.

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