Thomas Jefferson Papers

Elizabeth Trist to Thomas Jefferson, 5 March 1814

From Elizabeth Trist

Bird wood March 5th 1814

My Dr friend

I received your kind favor of the 1st of last month1 with my usual feelings of gratitude for the many kind and friendly attentions I have experienced from you,2 my having obtruded Mr Davèzac letter upon you for translation was inexcuseable for you mention’d in your last, from poplar Forest the little leisure you had for writing while at Monticello but that consideration never came into my head till it was too late but I know your goodness will excuse it. for tho we take the greatest liberties with our best friends generally speaking we are not justifiable in imposing too much on their good nature. Ellen3 has done ample justice in the elegant translation and has afforded me great pleasure. I was grieved to hear that Mrs Randolph was not restored to health and that Colonel R— had not relinquish’d the Idea of another Campaign4 tho such Men are wanted in our Armey I think he might be readily excused for he has great and important duties to perform as well as that of fighting the enemies of his Country one campaign was a great undertaking for a man with so large a family I am sorry that more success did not attend our Arms but at the same time I dont think the enemy had great cause of triumph for the check given to Proctor and his savage Allies and many other exploits of our Country men prove that they are not cowards our republican System dont admit of Standing Armies in time of Peace and they must have time to learn the Art, I am not apprehensive of being conquor’d or even driven to accept terms that are not just and honorable notwithstanding these malcontents5 in the New England States and elsewhere I hope there is sperit and virtue sufficient to save our Country6 I heard from a friend in Orleans that they were in commotion7 in that City a number of french men who claim’d the priviledge of voting refused to stand a draft to drive the enemy from their Shores8 The poor Governor has been Courting these people for ten years and the moment he interferes with their Comforts they abandon and abuse him9 their plea is that they are french Subjects but that is a poor excuse10 for the english are the enemies of france as well as America11 I am glad to hear that the Creoles are not of the Party. another draft of Melitia are call’d for from this County and are to march next week to Norfolk I expect our Dear Peachey will have to go, tho’ he is placed in rather an awkward Situation to avoid the frequent musterings which interfered with his Professional duties he got Colonel Hairston to place him on the Staff as Surgeons mate tho he had no skill in that art he cou’d tell if a man was fit for duty that had nothing the matter with him but he cou’d not take upon him to perform the necessary duties of that Office when they might be in a situation to need assistance in that line, the duty as well as inclination wou’d lead him to perform his tour of melitia duty12 he dont much like going into the ranks with such associates marching to the tune of the white Cockade play’d on an old half Strung fiddle a few days will detirmine the matter as the Colonel has written to General Leftwhich to know if it is necessary to take the Staff Officers if he must go it is better that he shou’d go now than later in the Season I hope there will be a truce at any rate while they are negociating for a General Peace Alas poor Napolien his proud heart must feel this Stroke of adverse fortune Mr and Mrs Gilmer unite with me in devoutly wishing you all that can render you happy, long life good health and every other good that you can desire and believe me your ever obliged and faithful friend

E, Trist

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Albemarle” via “mail”; franked; postmarked Rocky Mount, Va., 9 Mar. 1814; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Mar. 1814 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (NcU: NPT; filed at reel 17, frames 42–4 of 1991 microfilm ed.); undated, unsigned, and unaddressed; differs substantially from RC, with only the most significant variations noted below.

The poor governor of Louisiana was William C. C. Claiborne.

1Dft: “of this month.”

2Instead of remainder of this sentence and all of next, Dft reads “After sending off my letters I was struck with the impropriety of my request knowing the little leisure you must have, but it has been my misfortune thro life to be hurried on by the first impulses and I have been by so doing led to commit errors that have been attended with mortifications which I might have escaped with common prudence, and I lament that age dont operate to my amendment.”

3Dft here adds “I am sure.”

4Instead of next section of letter, Dft reads “our want of success must be attributed to the want of Unanimity in our County-men the report that the Eastern States are about to raise an Army of thirty thousand men to oppose the measures of our Goverment fills my mind with horror the consiquences are so dreadful God only knows where it will end they abuse’d you for not going to war, these very people that are now so clamorous against it.”

5RC: “male contents.”

6Dft resumes here.

7Dft: “in a dreadful state.”

8In place of preceding twenty-three words, Dft reads “The french to put Blanque and Roufeignice and others in the Legeslature claim’d the previledge of voting but have refused to stand a draft to drive the enemy from their Shores, and they look forward to an unpleasant Issue—The Balize having been abandond leaves the enemy in possession of the mouth of the River a schooner was taken some miles up the River and the inhabitants were in dread of their paying them a flying visit.”

9Dft here adds “it seems it is not the creoles of the Country but french men that have married in the Country.”

10Dft here adds “for their cowardice.”

11Instead of remainder of letter, Dft reads “I am not surprised that Tyrrany has had such sway in the world for half the human Race are only to be kept in subjection by the scourge I am so out of temper with those malecontents that I think I cou’d see them put to Death or banish’d the Country with pleasure there is nothing desireable in the Office that Mr Madison is elected to fill for there is not sufficient emolument to console for the chagrine and trouble attending such a situation without effecting the great object; we have reason to exult in the bravery of our men and the recent success that has attended our arms but it has cost us dear and if there is truth in the report that Hampton and Wilkinson are at varience I fear a procrastination to our hopes and wishes Mr Randolph occupies my thought continually God grant that he may be spared to his family and friends but I wou’d rather here that he was kill’d than taken prisoner for they surely wou’d on your acct make a sacrifise of him—I hope Bonaparte will be spared as long as Britain continues her arrogant system of Tyranny I can not help feeling interested in the honor and Glory of the french nation both from principles of gratitude as will as dislike to the english I was sorry to hear of Moreaus death the more grievious for having taken up arms against his Country tho he had been ill treated I cou’d have wishd him superior to that kind of resentment.”

12Trist here canceled “but.”

Index Entries

  • Blanque, Jean; La. legislator search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; governor of La. search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); as linguist search
  • Davezac, Jules; president of College of Orleans search
  • Gilmer, Mary House (Peachy R. Gilmer’s wife); sends greetings to TJ search
  • Gilmer, Peachy Ridgeway; military service of search
  • Gilmer, Peachy Ridgeway; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Hairston, George; military service of search
  • Hampton, Wade; War of1812service of search
  • Henry County; militia of search
  • Leftwich, Joel; military service of search
  • Louisiana (state); and War of1812 search
  • Louisiana (state); resistance to draft in search
  • Madison, James; mentioned search
  • militia; and War of1812 search
  • Moreau, Jean; death of search
  • music; “White Cockade” (song) search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; abdicates search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; defended search
  • Procter, Henry; British military commander search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); health of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); military service of search
  • Rouffignac, Joseph; La. legislator search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; asks TJ to translate a French letter search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; letters from search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on War of1812 search
  • War of1812; and La. search
  • War of1812; E. Trist on search
  • War of1812; militia activity search
  • Wilkinson, James; War of1812service of search
  • women; letters from; E. Trist search
  • “White Cockade” (song) search