Thomas Jefferson Papers

Wilson Cary Nicholas to Thomas Jefferson, 24 February 1817

From Wilson Cary Nicholas

Richmond Feby 24. 1817

My Dear Sir

The situation that I have been in for some time past has prevented my answering your last letter and making my acknowledgements for your friendly attention to Mr Armistead. I have the pleasure to inform you, your application procured Mr A. an appointment that if he is prudent will enable him to support his family.

A long and intimate acquaintance with you has given me a thorough knowledge of the excellence of your heart and how little effect that sort of intercourse with the world which usually blunts the feelings of others has had upon you. Your effort to revive the cordiality that formerly subsisted between Col. Monroe & myself is a strong1 proof of this. To you I believe I may appeal for the sincerity of my attachment to him, and the delicacy of my course at the time he chose to take offence.2 My personal attachment to Col M. &. Mr Madison were equal, with the former I had been longest acquainted & most familiar, for the talents of the latter I had the greatest respect & believed he was able to render my country most service. My confidence in the disinterestedness & patriotism of the two gentn was equal. With these feelings I gave my support to Mr M. when they were competitors for the presidency, but in a manner that wou’d have been justifiable in a brother of Col. M. For this I had many motives, my long friendship, my unwillingness to be instrumental in seperating3 any man from the party, & I will say from self respect. I persevered to the last, even after I thought I saw the course Col. Monroe was pursuing was calculated4 to sacrifice his old & best friends, some of them men to whom I had the strongest attachment from personal & public considerations,5 to whom he owed every thing, and what was less excusable the interes[t] of his country. However these might & I confess did lessen my confidence in Col M, they were not grounds for a persona[l] difference, nor did I ever make them so, there was no act of mine that cou’d have justified any thing of the sort on his part. Nothing however occurred (to my knowledge) that ought to prevent my considering the visit he made me & his explanation given to you as satisfactory. I have seen too much of the world & have met with too few men able to resist temptation to look for any thing like perfection in many public men. Nor am I of opinion that Col Monroe’s aberrations shou’d prevent his ever being forgiven. He6 soon will be in a situation where he may entitle himself to the confidence of every man and obliterate the recollection of every thing unpleasant that is past. The welfare of my country is so intimately connected with his doing so that I sincerely hope he may. As to my feelings I can assure you I have none that partake of resentment or the slightest ill will towards Col. M. on the contrary I am perfectly willing to consider “that this clou’d has passed away.”7 I trust my Dear Sir I need give no assurance of my high respect & attachment to you, nor the deference I pay to your opinions upon every subject. The friendship with which you have honored me has ever been a source of my highest gratification.8 I expect my future residence will be in this city. If you can make me useful to you in any way; I beg you to command my services without the least reserve. I have been confined for several days with a very severe cold.

I am with greatest respect & regard Dear Sir your hum. Serv.

W. C. Nicholas

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Mar. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to David Bailie Warden, 6 June 1817, on recto and verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Milton”; franked; postmarked Richmond, 27 Feb. Dft (ViU: TJP-ER); lacking dateline, salutation, and first paragraph; with emendations in ink and pencil.

1Dft: “is another.”

2Dft here strikes through in pencil “I considered frankness to you as to men & measures, a duty I owed you & the public.”

3Dft: “driving.”

4Dft: “I saw in Col M. a determination,” not canceled when Nicholas interlined in pencil the substitute language of the RC.

5Preceding twelve words interlined in Dft.

6Dft: “He has been and.”

7At this point in Dft Nicholas canceled “and mutual good will has resumed its place with both,” a continuation of the quotation from TJ’s 13 Nov. 1816 letter to him.

8Dft ends here with “I am &c W.C.N.”

Index Entries

  • Armistead, William (ca.1773–1840); seeks federal appointment search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and W. C. Nicholas search
  • Monroe, James; and W. C. Nicholas search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and appointment for W. Armistead search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and J. Madison’s presidency search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and J. Monroe search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters from search