Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Mason L. Weems, 2 August 1815

To Mason L. Weems

Monticello Aug. 2. 15.


I duly recieved your favor by the hands of your son, and with it the life of General Marion, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. I am sorry it is not in my power to assist you with materials for the life of Doctr Franklin. I never knew him personally until his arrival from England during the third1 session of Congress in 1775. and soon after the declaration of Independance he left us for Paris. it was 8. years after this that I met him again in Paris, but he soon after returned to America, and I remained there in his place about half a dozen years. when I returned I past an hour or two with him, while he was confined to his bed by the illness of which he died soon after. so that altho we were engaged in the same line for 14 or 15 years, yet it was so as to have but little personal intercourse. of the incidents of his life therefore I know but little, and that little from hearsay only, as every other person knows it. I recollect nothing within my own knowledge but what the public records & gazettes will furnish with much more exactitude than could be stated from a decaying memory. with my regrets at this inability to be useful to you, accept the assurances of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. should you pass thro’ our neighborhood, I shall be very happy to see you at Monticello. I am generally out on horseback in the forenoon, but in again before the hour of our dinner which is half after three.

PoC (CSmH: JF-BA); at foot of text: “Mr M. L. Weems”; endorsed by TJ.

Benjamin Franklin arrived at Philadelphia from england on 5 May 1775. He was selected the following day to represent Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress, which first convened on 10 May 1775 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 [1904–37], 2:5, 11–2).

Despite TJ’s failure to assist him, Weems soon published The Life of Doctor Benjamin Franklin written chiefly by himself (Baltimore, 1815).

1Word interlined in place of “second.”

Index Entries

  • Franklin, Benjamin; The Life of Doctor Benjamin Franklin (M. L. Weems) search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; TJ’s relationship with search
  • Horry, Peter; The Life of Gen. Francis Marion search
  • horses; TJ rides search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with B. Franklin search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); daily schedule of search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); dining at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); invitations to visit search
  • The Life of Doctor Benjamin Franklin (M. L. Weems) search
  • The Life of Gen. Francis Marion (P. Horry and M. L. Weems) search
  • Weems, Jesse Ewell; delivers book to TJ search
  • Weems, Mason Locke; invited to visit Monticello search
  • Weems, Mason Locke; letters to search
  • Weems, Mason Locke; The Life of Doctor Benjamin Franklin search
  • Weems, Mason Locke; The Life of Gen. Francis Marion search