Thomas Jefferson Papers

Isaac A. Coles to Thomas Jefferson, 29 December 1809

From Isaac A. Coles

Washington Dec. 29th 1809.

Dear Sir,

The inclosed letter for Mrs Randolph was sent under cover to the President as well as the parcel of Books which I forward by this day’s Mail.

The Pictures will be shiped for Richmond in the course of a few days—viz. Mr Latrobes drawing of the Capitol, a small one on the Dioclesian Plan, & the Dioclesian Portico. there are also some pictures which hung in your bed-chamber, which were supposed to be yours, but which will not be sent, as you do not mention them in your letter. The Grisly bearskin is one that was received here, after your return to Monticello, & you will get it from Mr Dinsmore in Orange, to whose care it has been entrusted.

Kosciuzko’s Profile unfortunately is not to be found—I remember it used to hang in your Cabinet, but it has in some way been mislaid or lost. Should I recover it, of which I almost despair, I shall set a very great value on it indeed, & at any rate I shall ever be grateful for the offer from you, of such a present.

The Comtee to whom my letter was referred, will, it is expected, make a report to day, & I have reason to believe that it will be of a very mild character; but after what has passed, & particularly as much unfriendly sentiment exists towards me, in men of respectable standing in the House, I feel myself compelled to declare to the President, that I never can again be the bearer of a Message to that Body. As the course which Congress is taking seems to be one of peace, I shall also throw up my Commission, & expect in the course of a few weeks to return to albemarle. I will then have the pleasure to see you, as I propose to take Monticello in my way Home.

with Sentimts of the warmest & most respectful attachmt I am &c

I. A. Coles.

RC (DLC); TJ’s endorsement damaged. Recorded in SJL as received 3 Jan. 1810. Enclosure not found.

On 27 Nov. 1809 Coles entered the United States Capitol and struck Maryland representative Roger Nelson in the face, supposedly in response to an injurious comment that Nelson had made. Although he apologized in writing to the Speaker of the House two days later, a congressional committee was appointed on 8 Dec. to investigate the matter. On 29 Dec. 1809 the comtee reported that a breach of privilege had occurred, but that, in their opinion, Congress should take no further action. Shortly thereafter Coles resigned his army commission and his position as President James Madison’s secretary and left the capital (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers. description ends , 11th Cong., 2d sess., 685, 705, 987–8; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:150–1).

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; resignations from search
  • bear, grizzly; skin sent to TJ search
  • books; sent by I. A. Coles search
  • Capitol, U.S.; B. H. Latrobe’s drawings of search
  • Capitol, U.S.; congressman assaulted in search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; and affair with Nelson search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; and TJ’s Washington effects search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; letters from search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; resignations of search
  • Congress, U.S.; B. H. Latrobe’s drawings of U.S. Capitol search
  • Congress, U.S.; member of assaulted search
  • Dinsmore, James; works at Montpellier search
  • House of Representatives, U.S.; honor disputes in search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; T. Kosciuszko engraving search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; profiles of TJ by search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; drawings by search
  • Madison, James; mentioned search
  • Nelson, Roger; assaulted by I. A. Coles search
  • paintings search
  • President’s House; and T. Kosciuszko’s profiles of TJ search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); letter to, from unidentified correspondent, mentioned search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); mentioned search
  • Richmond, Va.; pictures shipped to search
  • Varnum, Joseph Bradley; speaker of U.S. House of Representatives search