Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Runciman to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1810

From James Runciman

Cambridge State of Newyorke march 10th 1810

Illusterous Sir

I have taken the liberty to write you a freedom For which I am Confident you will Excues me when I State to your Excellency my reasons for writing I was born in Scotland in the Shire of Dumfrise my native place was a village Caled Langholm on the River Eske twenty two mills North of Carlisle in this village or town I pased my younger Days and where I have now a numerous and Respektable aquaintance my father followed the tread of a blaksmith whish tread I learned what time I could Spare from attending on my busenes I spent on reading books both ancient and modren history I soon became aquainted with the pollitical State of nations I could read with pleasure the Noble strugles of the Greeks and Romans for liberty in ancient times and in our own Days of america and France I admired the Conduke of those Great and Illusterous men that braved every Danger for ther Cuntrys Good and the good of millions unborn the Commencment of the Frinch revolution Caused great agitation in the minds of the people of great Britain that astonishing event whish in its progress has overturned nations and kingdoms and mead the Despots of Europe tremble on ther throns I Deed truly rejoise that the Frinch nation had tore to attoms the chains whish they and ther fathers had wore and at every viktory gained by ther armes I was always a warm frind to that independance whish natures God has planted in every human breast soon after theis great events tooke place in Europe it was not long untill I was Convinced I Could not injoy my sentiments in the land that gave me birth in saifty I formed the resolution of moving to america. Sold my property and Sailed from liverpool landed at Newyorke on the first Day of November in the year of our Loord 1794 Since that time I have Doon mush busenes and I have Sufered some for being a frind to your independence only that independent Spirit that Carryed me a crose the atlantike was Still upermost in my mind and was proofe against every Difficulty that came in my way Soon after I came into america I married and my wife has now 6 children living two Boys and four Girls on of my boys I Named Thomas Jefferson in honour of our precident he is a fine boy and of a pleasant Countinance my intention was to give him good learning only a late misfortune has I am affraid put it out of my pour Cambridge is the moste Federall town of this County of washington manny of its inhabitants wer not frindly to the american revolution nor its precent form of goverment I was in company about one year ago where a disput on pollitices tooke place from words it went to blows and I had the misfortune in this scuffle to have my Leg broke this is a great misfortune to me and my family if your Excellincy will please to put it in my pour to give my Son Thomas good learning it would be great Satisfaction to me and my family and I1 am in hops that with good learning he will Do honer to his name and family I have observed I have Doon mush busenes Since I Came into america Soon after I came into Cambridge I opened Store was Soon after forced into Some very teidous law Suits2 attended with a great Expence I cannot writ the circumstances in this sheet only I have wrote what I call the memores of James Runciman this Booke contains ane account of my Imigration from Scotland to america and setteling in Cambridg a statment of the law Suits in whish I was ingaged and other circumstances of my busenes to this time I am in hops to have it in my pour to pubilish theis memores this Sumer and if your Excellency wishes to have a Coppy and will pleas to write me I will with the greatest of pleasure Send you a Coppy this booke is entertaining Some part of it wrote in the form of a millitary Expidition

I hope your Excellency will take my requeist Concerning my Son Thomas Jefferson into your Consideration and I will be happy to hear of its meeting your approbation

I remain your Excellencys Sincer Frind with great respekt and Esteem

James Runciman

I am aquainted with the Honerable Mr Thom McClain comnishoner of millitary Stores for this State of Newyorke and who lives in this town of Cambridg

RC (MHi); addressed: “To His Excellency Mr Thomas Jefferson Late precident of the united States Monticella Virginia”; franked; postmarked Cambridge, N.Y., 27 Mar.; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Apr. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

James Runciman (1765–1848), a blacksmith born in Langholm, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and his wife, Nancy Johnston Runciman, had six daughters and six sons, including Thomas Jefferson Runciman, born on 2 Jan. 1805. James Runciman spent some time in debtors’ prison and often moved in search of stable employment. Early in the 1830s he finally settled in Orleans County, New York (Azuba Ruth Ward, The Laing Family [1990], 15–6, 30).

1Runciman here canceled “flatter.”

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; and N.Y. loyalists search
  • Atlantic Ocean; passage across search
  • Cambridge, N.Y.; Federalists in search
  • charity; requests to TJ for search
  • France; and Great Britain search
  • French Revolution; positive opinions of search
  • Great Britain; and France search
  • health; fractured bones search
  • leg; broken search
  • McLane, Thomas search
  • Runciman, James; identified search
  • Runciman, James; letters from search
  • Runciman, James; memoirs of search
  • Runciman, James; seeks TJ’s assistance for son search
  • Runciman, Thomas Jefferson search
  • Scotland; emigration from search