Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Roberts, 24 July 1803

From William Roberts

Charlottesville 24 July 1803

William Roberts lately from Norfolk, taking an Excursion with his Sister Mrs. Taylor and presuming on the honour of having been introduced to Mr. Jefferson almost an age ago in London, by Hector St. John Author of “Letters by an American Farmer”; intended to take the liberty this morning of expressing the singular gratification he should derive from a view of the Residence of Mr Jefferson, and from an opportunity of renewing his respectful remembrance. They heedlessly passed the entrance and proceeded down the Mountain until fatigue rendered it too late to return, but with his permission, they will visit Monticello to morrow or the following morning.

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ.

William Roberts, brother of merchant Edward Roberts of Norfolk, was an artist of Virginia landscapes, including the Natural Bridge and Harper’s Ferry, as well as a view of the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. TJ eventually acquired two of his oil paintings as well as engravings from them made by Joseph Jeakes (Barbara C. Batson, “Virginia Landscapes by William Roberts,” Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 10 [1984], 35-48; Roberts to TJ, 18 July 1804, 26 Feb. 1808).

J. hector st. john, also known as St. John de Crèvecoeur, wrote Letters from an American Farmer, first published in London in 1782. He corresponded frequently with TJ and may have facilitated an introduction to Roberts when TJ was in London from 11 March until 26 April 1786 (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952-59, 5 vols. description ends No. 4018; Vol. 6:509n; Vol. 8:421-2; Vol. 9:2).

Index Entries