Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Trumbull to Thomas Jefferson, 3 March 1817

From John Trumbull

Washington March 3d 1817.

Dear Sir

I trust you will forgive my having so long delayed to answer your very kind letter of January 10th—the reason has been1 that I could write nothing with certainty, until by passing the appropriation bill, the House of Representatives had sanctioned the agreement which was made with me by the President

I have now the pleasure to say that2 I am authorized to paint four of the great Events of the Revolution:—the Declaration of Independance:—the Surrender of Burgoyne:—the Surrender of Cornwallis:—& the Resignation of Washington:—the pictures are to be 12 feet high by 18 feet long, which will give to the principal figures the Size of Life.—I shall begin with the Declaration of Independance, & shall exert all my Talent to produce a work worthy of the Event, and of the high patronage with which I am honored;3—The kind approbation of my object,4 which you was so good as to express, contributed5 powerfully to my very unexpected6 Success;—and I beg you to accept my cordial thanks.7

My mind recurs with delight to the days which I formerly passed in your house at Paris, but time has not failed to exert his accustomed talent at Destruction;—Mrs Church is gone:—He is ruined in fortune, & returned to England:   Kitty is now Mrs Cruger. & the mother of five or Six fine Children:—Mrs Cosway, I believe is living in Milan with a Sister,8 but I have no correct information of her for some time: even her brother Mr Geo Hatfield the architect here, has not heard lately.—I learn from Madame De Neuville, the French Minister’s lady here,9 that Madame de Corny is her particular friend, & was very lately in perfect health.

I beg to be mentioned with affectionate remembrance to your Daughter, and request you to accept my best wishes for your health, & for a long and happy Life.

I am Dr Sir faithfully & gratefully your’s

Jno Trumbull

RC (DLC); at head of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Mar. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (CtY: Franklin Collection); first page only; evidently removed from a letterbook and now tipped into an extra-illustrated copy of Autobiography, Reminiscences and Letters of John Trumbull, from 1756 to 1841 (1841); only the most significant variations are noted below.

For the appropriation bill, see note to Trumbull to TJ, 26 Dec. 1816. Anne Marguerite Joséphine Henriette Rouillé de Marigny Hyde de neuville was the wife of Jean Guillaume Hyde de Neuville, the French ambassador to the United States.

1Dft here adds “that I did not feel.”

2Dft here adds “unexpected Success has attended me.”

3Dft: “high patronage which I enjoy.”

4Preceding three words not in Dft.

5Word interlined in Dft in place of “weighed.”

6Preceeding two words not in Dft.

7Dft here cancels “—in truth.”

8Preceding three words not in Dft.

9Dft ends here with “that Madame de Corny is living, & well, & an intimate friend of hers.”

Index Entries

  • Burgoyne, John; J. Trumbull’s painting of search
  • Capitol, U.S.; J. Trumbull’s paintings for search
  • Church, Angelica Schuyler (John Barker Church’s wife) search
  • Church, John Barker search
  • Congress, U.S.; and paintings for U.S. Capitol search
  • Cornwallis, Charles, 2d Earl Cornwallis; J. Trumbull’s painting of search
  • Cornwallis, Charles, 2d Earl Cornwallis; surrender of search
  • Corny, Marguérite Victoire de Palerne de; health of search
  • Cosway, Maria Louisa Catherine Cecilia Hadfield; friendship with TJ search
  • Cruger, Catherine “Kitty” Church search
  • Declaration of Independence; J. Trumbull’s painting of presentation of search
  • Hatfield, George search
  • Hyde de Neuville, Anne Marguerite Joséphine Henriette Rouillé de Marigny (Jean Guillaume Hyde de Neuville’s wife) search
  • Hyde de Neuville, Jean Guillaume; family of search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and J. Trumbull’s historical paintings search
  • paintings; by J. Trumbull search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Revolutionary War; J. Trumbull’s paintings of search
  • The Declaration of Independence (J. Trumbull) search
  • The Resignation of General Washington (J. Trumbull) search
  • The Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga (J. Trumbull) search
  • The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown (J. Trumbull) search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); friendship with TJ search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); historical paintings of search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); letters from search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); The Declaration of Independence search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); The Resignation of General Washington search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); The Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown search
  • Washington, George; portraits of search