Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Charles Pinckney, 29 August 1809

To Charles Pinckney

Monticello Aug. 29. 09.

Dear Sir

Mrs Trist, daughter of the late mrs House of Philadelphia, both of them probably known to you, is now with us on a visit, and has been rendered extremely miserable by a paragraph in a Charleston paper, called the Strength of the people, mentioning the death of Samuel House ‘an old and respectable inhabitant of that city.’ she had a brother of that name, who has been living in Charleston about 20. years & was probably something under 50 years of age. he married a miss Corse since dead, by whom he had children. he was for some time in the office of mr Hamilton, now Secretary of the Navy. she is anxious to know whether this was the person whose death is announced in the inclosed paragraph? of what disease & in what situation or circumstances he died? what children he left, & how they are disposed of? the mother of his wife is understood to be in a situation to take care of them. desirous that these her enquiries should be satisfied, & having no acquaintance herself at Charleston, I have assured her I could so far count on the indulgence of your friendship as to ask an answer to them through your agency which I now take the liberty of doing. the motive of humanity is I know sufficient to engage you in this kind office, and a sympathy with her feelings will prevent unnecessary delay.—now a word as to myself. I am here enjoying the ineffable luxury of being owner of my own time: and never was I busier, or more constantly hurried by the objects of my emploiment. but these are always pursuits of either fancy or interest, & their consummation a source of gratification to myself. satisfied as I am that the public vessel is in the hands of as able a pilot as could be found, I sleep soundly as a mere passenger without troubling myself1 with the courses pursued. I have now leisure to think of my friends & to rejoice in their welfare. I offer my prayers for your’s with the assurances of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Charles Pinckney esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

Charles Pinckney (1757–1824), longtime governor of South Carolina (1789–92, 1796–98, 1806–08), was born in Charleston, fought in the American Revolution, and served in the Confederation Congress, 1784–87. He was prominent in the Federal Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, where he introduced a plan to strengthen the national government, and he presided over South Carolina’s constitutional convention in 1790. Pinckney transferred his loyalties from the Federalists to the Republican party during the 1790s, serving as a Republican in the United States Senate, 1798–1801. During his first weeks in office, TJ appointed Pinckney minister plenipotentiary to Spain, where he served until October 1805. He often sat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, ending with service from 1808–13. Pinckney came out of political retirement for a term in the United States House of Representatives, 1819–21, and there defended slavery during the crisis over statehood for Missouri (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; BDSCHR description begins Walter B. Edgar and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1974– , 5 vols. description ends , 3:555–60; Frances Leigh Williams, A Founding Family: The Pinckneys of South Carolina [1978]; Mark D. Kaplanoff, “Charles Pinckney and the American Republican Tradition,” in Michael O’Brien and David Moltke-Hansen, eds., Intellectual Life in Antebellum Charleston [1986], 85–122, 397–408).

TJ quoted in full a brief obituary giving the death date of samuel house as 12 Aug. 1809 (Charleston Strength of the People, 15 Aug. 1809).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Corse, Miss; marries S. House search
  • Hamilton, Paul (1762–1816); secretary of the navy search
  • House, Mary search
  • House, Samuel; death of search
  • Pinckney, Charles; and S. House search
  • Pinckney, Charles; identified search
  • Pinckney, Charles; letters to search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; friends and family of search