Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Randolph Harrison, 28 September 1815

To Randolph Harrison

Poplar Forest, Sep. 28. 15.

Dear Sir

During a long visit to this place I have had leisure to think of your house. you seemed to require 6. rooms, neither more nor less, and a good entrance or passage of communication. the inclosed is drawn on that plan. the ground plat is in detail, and exact; the elevation is merely a sketch to give a general idea. the workman, if he is any thing of an Architect will be able to draw the particulars. affectionately yours

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Harrison”; endorsed by TJ.

Randolph Harrison (1769–1839), planter and first cousin of TJ, married another first cousin, Mary Randolph, in 1790, and one of their sons, William Mortimer Harrison, was buried in the graveyard at Monticello in 1812. He managed a portion of the Cumberland County plantation of his father, Carter Henry Harrison, for a number of years and was given a parcel of this land. Harrison eventually bought out his brothers’ shares in their father’s property, relocated his family in about 1800 to the parental home of Clifton, and prospered. He contributed to the subscription for Central College and represented Cumberland County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1826–27. After his death at the White Sulphur Springs, Harrison’s estate was valued at close to $90,000 (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 35 [1927]: 207–11, 302–9, 451–5; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1248, 1249, 1279; Cynthia A. Kierner, Scandal at Bizarre [2004], 33–6, 66–7, 154, 163; TJ to Harrison, 23 Mar. 1807 [DLC]; Harrison to TJ, 17 Feb. 1818; Shackelford, Descendants description begins George Green Shackelford, ed., Collected Papers … of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson, 1965–84, 2 vols. description ends , 1:253; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 328, 333; Cumberland Co. Will Book, 10:164–5, 310–14; Richmond Enquirer, 1, 11 Oct. 1839).

The enclosed ground plat and elevation have not been identified. An undated architectural drawing by TJ has sometimes been linked to this letter and to an addition Harrison made about 1835 to an existing structure on his Ampthill property near Clifton (Kimball, Jefferson, Architect, nos. 203–4, p. 185).

Index Entries

  • Ampthill (R. Harrison’s Cumberland Co. estate) search
  • architecture; TJ advises R. Harrison search
  • Harrison, Randolph; identified search
  • Harrison, Randolph; letters to search
  • Harrison, Randolph; TJ’s architectural drawings for search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search