Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Maximilian Godefroy, 11 November 1816

To Maximilian Godefroy

Poplar Forest near Lynchburg. Nov. 11. 16


I recieve here your favor of Oct. 12. written from the Natural bridge, and am not at all surprised at the sensations expressed by you as produced by that great object, and the attachment excited. as a place of retirement and contemplation I know none in the world which would be so delightful, were not it’s solitude so incessantly interrupted by the curiosity of the world, and constant succession of visitors. but these would render it impossible for any one to live there but in some line of business which would turn their visits to account. there was a moment when I would have parted with it. when about to retire from the Presidency I found myself considerably in debt on winding up my affairs, and an individual from the neighborhood of the bridge happened to call on me at that moment, & proposed to buy. I told him I would consider of it and write to him. I did so & wrote him an offer which he never answered. had he accepted, it would have been gone, and I should now have been repenting it. the momentary motive having been relieved from other resources, has never again arisen. I consider myself as guardian only for the public of this first of all natural curiosities, and in the permission I gave to the little establishment there, I strictly guarded against defacing or masking the object.   I regret very much that my absence from Monticello deprived me of the pleasure of seeing you when Mde Godefroi and yourself1 did me that of calling there. I should have recieved you with great satisfaction and have endeavored to render to you in person the assurances which I can now give by letter only of my great respect and esteem.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of William Wirt to TJ, 10 Aug. 1816; mutilated at seal, with missing text rewritten by TJ; at foot of text: “M. Godefroi”; endorsed by TJ.

The individual from the neighborhood of the bridge was William Jenkings (see TJ to Jenkings, 1 July 1809). TJ’s 2 Dec. 1814 agreement to lease Natural Bridge to Philip Thornton and allow the establishment of a shot manufactory there prohibited him from defacing or masking the site.

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Godefroy, Eliza Crawford Anderson; visits Monticello search
  • Godefroy, Maximilian; and Natural Bridge search
  • Godefroy, Maximilian; letter to search
  • Godefroy, Maximilian; visits Monticello search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and lease of Natural Bridge search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Natural Bridge search
  • Jenkings, William; and Natural Bridge land search
  • manufacturing; shot towers search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Godefroy, Maximilian and Eliza C. A. search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; and shot manufactory search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; lease of search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; proposed sale of TJ’s lands at search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; TJ on search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; visitors to search
  • shot manufacture search
  • Thornton, Philip; and shot manufactory search
  • Thornton, Philip; leases Natural Bridge from TJ search