Thomas Jefferson Papers

William W. Hening to Thomas Jefferson, 23 September 1816

From William W. Hening

Richmond 23rd Septr 1816


Your letter of the 15th was delivered to me, after the arrival of the last mail only; and I have not lost a moment in complying with its contents.—I send you by the Charlottesville stage-driver, the three first volumes of the Statutes at large.—Unfortunately the sheets of the 4th Vol. which had been sent to Petersburg, to be bound, were all destroyed by the dreadful conflagration at that place; so that none of the impression were saved except those copies which had been previously bound for public use. It will be immediately reprinted.—The 5th Vol. is printed, except the Index.—With this volume, I will send you the 4th which will shortly be reprinted. My original plan contemplated the bringing down the Statutes at Large to the end of the year 1792, when our last Revisal was made. But, should it be found expedient, they will be continued to a later period.

I have still, in my possession, the M.S. Vol. of laws, which I received, from the late Edmund Randolph Esqr, and which, from the description you gave, I had no doubt was your property. I do not recollect, that you gave me any specific directions, in relation to it.—Will you have it sent to you; or shall I send it to Washington?—and, if to the latter place, to whose address?

With much esteem & respect, I am Yrs

Wm: W: Hening

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Oct. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols.; Sowerby, no. 1863; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 10 (no. 573) description ends vols. 1–3.

Despite Hening’s prediction that the fourth volume of his Statutes at Large would be immediately reprinted, a second edition did not appear until 1820. The unpaginated preface to that tome states that “The first edition of this volume was printed in 1814, by the late Mr. Samuel Pleasants, printer to the commonwealth, by contract with the editor, and the sheets sent to Petersburg to be bound. As many copies as were subscribed for by the state, at that time, and a few over, were finished and delivered, the remaining sheets were all burnt, in the dreadful fire which happened in that town on the 16th day of July, 1815.” The 5th vol. was published in Richmond in 1819.

Index Entries

  • Charlottesville, Va.; stagecoach to, from Richmond search
  • Hening, William Waller; and TJ’s collection of Va. laws search
  • Hening, William Waller; letters from search
  • Hening, William Waller; The Statutes at Large search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • law; books on search
  • Petersburg, Va.; fire in search
  • Pleasants, Samuel; Richmond printer search
  • Randolph, Edmund; and manuscript of Va. laws search
  • Richmond, Va.; stagecoach from search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); publication of search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); sent to TJ search
  • Virginia; laws of search
  • Virginia; TJ’s collection of laws of search