Thomas Jefferson Papers

Elizabeth Trist to Thomas Jefferson, 28 February 1815

From Elizabeth Trist

Bird wood Henry 28th Feby—15

My ever respected friend

I can not deny my self the pleasure of addressing you on this joyful occasion tho I expect you will be borne down with congratulations, mine may mingle with the more important as no one can feel more than I do the happy termination of the war, and the victory we obtaind at New Orleans one of the most singular and Glorious that the Annals of our country can furnish, and will establishs our national character for courage and abilities that may insure Us greater security than we ever enjoy’d, the more I reflect on it, the more wonderful it appears to me that so much was effected with so little loss on our side, the unanimity and spirit which the Inhabitants of that Country display’d on this occasion will insure to them the Confidence and esteem of their sister States as doubts had always been entertaind of their stability and Attachment to our Goverment, but they have evinced as much patriotism and firmness as any of the States have or cou’d have done and a great deel more then her jealous elder sisters have perform’d, they will now be convinced of the great advantage of that Country to us, tho they derided you for having purchased it. They only wanted a Man of firmness and decision to command them and General Jackson seems to have been ordain’d by Heaven for the purpose, he was of no party listend to none of their cabals yet insured the confidence of every body by his manly and upright deportment all were call’d upon to perform their duty and all willingly complied. my friend Mrs Ross sent me a diary of the transactions from the first of their landing till they disimbark’d1 their Troops again, an awful perid and which will never be forgotten by the Women and children for all had some dear connection or friend combating the enemy the roar of the cannon and the bursting of the bombs convulsed the earth, one peice of intelligence that I am indebted to her for, is this anecdote which I think shews the character of Jackson at once He appointed Livingstone and Duncan the Lawyer his aids, neither very partial to each other Duncan is detested by the french of course they were not pleased at his having the appointment but little was said about it, as the enemy approach’d Duncan told the General that the Legeslative Counsel had it in2 contemplation to offer to capitulate on certain terms I believe it was after the engagement that took place on the 23th Dec the General immediatily sent to the Governor to order a Guard to be placed at the door of the Principal and to blow them up Skipwith who is President of the Legeslative counsel observed in Company with Mrs Ross that the Genel had not taken three breaths before he repented having given the order blow them up, but the messenger3 was gone Skipwith dont spare Duncan and says that at a proper time, it shall be laid before the public that their lives were not safe while such reports were going about and they call Duncan the intriguer I have not a doubt but he wou’d have brought it about if he cou’d and mention’d it, just to feel the Generals pulse upon the subject, I cou’d Say a great deel about the fellow but I despise him and in charity to you conclude after presenting Mr and Mrs Gilmers respectful Compliments and wishes for your health and happiness and that God may preserve you many years is my constant4 prayer

E. Trist


I shall take the liberty to enclose a letter to Mrs Randolph in this

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 28 Mar. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but the reply, Martha Jefferson Randolph to Trist, 31 May 1815 (typescript in ViHi: Trist Papers), dwells at length on family news, including the bankruptcy of Richard Hackley and the quarrel by John Randolph of Roanoke and Ann Cary Randolph Morris in connection with the 1792–93 Bizarre Scandal.

During the engagement that took place on 28 Dec. 1814, not the 23th, General Andrew Jackson was informed by his aide Abner L. Duncan that he had received a report that the state legislature intended to surrender Louisiana to the British. Although Jackson apparently disbelieved the rumor, he desired governor William C. C. Claiborne “to make strict enquiry into the subject; and if true, to blow them up.” On receiving Jackson’s message Claiborne directed that the statehouse doors be locked, but he revoked this order that same evening (Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 7 vols. description ends , 3:226–7; Report of the Committee of Inquiry, on the Military Measures Executed Against the Legislature of the State of Louisiana, the 28th of December 1814 [New Orleans, 1815; repr. in Louisiana Historical Quarterly 9 (1926): 223–80, esp. 252–3]).

1Thus in manuscript, with “imbark’d” probably intended.

2Manuscript: “had in in.”

3Reworked from “blow them up, call’d to the messenger but he.”

4Manuscript: “contant.”

Index Entries

  • Bizarre Scandal search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; and War of1812 search
  • Duncan, Abner Lawson; War of1812service of search
  • Gilmer, Mary House (Peachy R. Gilmer’s wife); sends greetings to TJ search
  • Gilmer, Peachy Ridgeway; sends greetings to TJ search
  • Hackley, Richard Shippey; bankruptcy of search
  • Jackson, Andrew; War of1812service of search
  • Livingston, Edward; E. Trist on search
  • Louisiana (state); and War of1812 search
  • Louisiana (state); legislature of search
  • Morris, Ann Cary Randolph (Gouverneur Morris’s wife; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s sister-in-law); and Bizarre Scandal search
  • New Orleans, Battle of (1815); E. Trist on search
  • New Orleans; and War of1812 search
  • Randolph, John (of Roanoke); and Bizarre Scandal search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); correspondence of search
  • Ross, Maria Sabina; War of1812diary of search
  • Skipwith, Fulwar; as La. state senator search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; friends and family of search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; letters from search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on E. Livingston search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on War of1812 search
  • War of1812; and La. search
  • War of1812; defense of New Orleans search
  • War of1812; E. Trist on search
  • women; letters from; E. Trist search