Thomas Jefferson Papers

Bernard Peyton to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1817

From Bernard Peyton

Richmond 10th: March "17

Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure to receive your esteemed favor of the 5th current, this morning, enclosing one to Colo Randolph—upon enquiry I find from the time he left here, he must have reached Monticello the day after the date of your letter, I will therefore preserve this communication until I receive your farther instruction.—

I have a particular friend and companion about to set out on a Tour of Europe for his improvement, who is anxious to obtain some letters of introduction to persons in the different parts of it, which he contemplates visiting, &. knowing no person who can confer this favor with so much effect as yourself, I take the liberty to solicit it, in his, and my own name—I feel great reluctance at doing this, knowing as I do the excessive labour, and inconvenience you are exposed too, by the frequency of such applications—I trust tho’ you will pardon me, and attribute it to my great regard for this young Gentleman, & my anxiety that every facility should be afforded him in this laudable persuit, convinced as I am, that he will one day become an ornament to his native state—   I alude to Mr William C. Preston, son to Genl Francis Preston of Washington County Va—he is now in his twenty-fourth year & is universally considered a young man of most extraordinary acquirement & promise, his probity I can vouch for—

Should this request be not inconsistent with any resolution you may have made, I shall feel extremely obliged by your compliance—be so good in that event, as to forward them under cover to me at your convenience.—

Very respectfully sir Your Obd: Hub: Sert:

Bernard Peyton

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Mar. 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

William Campbell Preston (1794–1860), attorney, public official, and educator, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Francis Preston, a congressman from Abingdon. He began his studies at Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, received an A.B. in 1812 from South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) in Columbia, read law in Richmond under William Wirt, and completed his legal education at the University of Edinburgh. Licensed to practice in Virginia in 1820, Preston moved back to Columbia by 1824, where he continued to practice law and became involved in politics. He was a member of the lower house of the South Carolina legislature, 1828–33, and in the latter year he was elected to fill a vacant United States Senate seat. Preston entered the Senate as a Democrat and resigned in 1842 as a Whig. An eloquent orator, he was a stalwart defender of slavery, states’ rights, and Nullification, and a bitter opponent of Andrew Jackson. Preston served as president of South Carolina College and taught classics there from 1846 until a stroke caused him to retire in 1851. He was a trustee of the college until 1857. Preston donated his extensive personal library to found the Columbia Lyceum and died in that city (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; O’Neall, Bench and Bar of South Carolina description begins John Belton O’Neall, Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina, 1859, 2 vols. description ends , 2:531–5; Minnie Clare Yarborough, ed., The Reminiscences of William C. Preston [1933]; ScU: Preston Papers; Charleston Tri-Weekly Courier, 24, 26 May, 16 June 1860).

TJ’s favor of the 5th current, covering his letter of that date to Thomas Mann Randolph, has not been found and is not recorded in SJL.

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Peyton, Bernard; and correspondence for T. M. Randolph search
  • Peyton, Bernard; and introductions for W. C. Preston search
  • Peyton, Bernard; letters from search
  • Peyton, Bernard; letters to accounted for search
  • Preston, Francis; family of search
  • Preston, William Campbell; identified search
  • Preston, William Campbell; introduced to TJ search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); mentioned search