Thomas Jefferson Papers

Salma Hale to David Hale, 5 May 1818 with postscript dated 7 May 1818

I. Salma Hale to David Hale

Charlottesville, May 5, 1818.

Dear Sir,—

I am now in the heart of Virginia about 2 miles from the residence of Mr. Jefferson. I have travelled thro a poor country, and over bad roads, and feel a little the worse for the toil.

To-morrow I shall visit Mr. Jefferson to whom I have a letter of introduction. I shall then look around me a little and return home as quick as possible.

The principal part of Virginia thro which I have travelled is a level sandy pine plain, there are many log huts, and a very few good houses, not near so many as in the county of Cheshire, excepting in Richmond. The chimneys are at each end, and outside.

The land yields ten or fifteen bushels of corn to the acre, and about as much wheat. Every step I take makes me love New Hampshire better.


S. Hale.

May. 7. I have just returned from visiting Mr. Jefferson, with whom I have spent a very agreeable day. He appears to be very rich, has a large brick house on the top of a mountain, and lives happy and contented.

Printed in Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings 46 (1913): 403; with note that the letter had been franked and addressed to “Mr. David Hale. Alstead New Hampshire.”

Salma Hale (1787–1866), public official, attorney, and author, was born in Alstead, Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Trained as a printer, he was editor of the Walpole Political Observatory, 1805–08. Hale studied law and in 1812 became clerk of the court of common pleas for Cheshire County and later of New Hampshire’s supreme court. When a Republican state legislature attempted to transform Dartmouth College into a public institution in 1816, Hale became a trustee of the resulting Dartmouth University. He was acting with William Wirt as the university’s counsel in 1819 when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the state and restored control to the original college trustees. Hale completed one term in the United States House of Representatives, 1817–19. Between 1823 and 1846 he served intermittently in both houses of the state legislature. Hale published a textbook History of the United States (New York, 1825), which went through multiple editions, and Annals of the Town of Keene (1826; rev. ed., 1851), Keene being his place of residence from 1813. In 1834 he gave up his clerkships and was admitted to the bar. Hale died in Somerville, Massachusetts (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present, online resource, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives description ends ; New England Historical and Genealogical Register 21 [1867]: 292; Charles H. Bell, The Bench and Bar of New Hampshire [1894], 418–9; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:490; Andrew J. King and Alfred S. Konefsky, eds., The Papers of Daniel Webster: Legal Papers [1982–89], 3:95, 100, 157, 161–2, 168, 173–5; John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College, 1815–1909 [1913], 111, 290; Amherst, N.H., Farmers’ Cabinet, 6 Dec. 1866).

This letter was probably addressed to Hale’s father, David Hale (ca. 1758–1822), rather than his brother David Hale (1783–1822), an attorney in Newport, New Hampshire (Albert Welles, History of the Buell Family in England … and in America [1881], 365; Bell, Bench and Bar of New Hampshire, 413; Keene New-Hampshire Sentinel, 28 Sept., 9 Nov. 1822).

Only the address cover of Hale’s letter of introduction from William Pope, 5 May 1818, has been found (RC in DLC; with PoC of TJ to Robert Walsh, 20 July 1818, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire and Colo Thomas M Randolph Monticello” by “Salma Hale Esquire”; recorded in SJL as received 7 May 1818 from “Montpelier” [Pope’s Powhatan County estate], with the additional notation “by mr Hale”). Pope (1762–1852) was an attorney and state legislator whose only other correspondence with TJ occurred in 1808 while he was representing Powhatan in the Virginia House of Delegates (Pope to TJ, 30 May 1808 [ViW: TC-JP]; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 249, 253, 267, 271; “Pope Ancestry,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 1st ser., 24 [1916]: 196–7).

Index Entries

  • architecture; in Va. search
  • corn; as crop search
  • Hale, David (1783–1822); family of search
  • Hale, David (ca.1758–1822); family of search
  • Hale, David (ca.1758–1822); letter to, from S. Hale search
  • Hale, Salma; identified search
  • Hale, Salma; introduced to TJ search
  • Hale, Salma; letter from, to D. Hale search
  • Hale, Salma; observations on Va. search
  • Hale, Salma; visits Monticello search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; by S. Hale search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); described search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Hale, Salma search
  • New Hampshire; praise for search
  • Pope, William; identified search
  • Pope, William; introduces S. Hale search
  • Pope, William; letter from accounted for search
  • Richmond, Va.; houses in search
  • Virginia; agriculture in search
  • Virginia; architecture in search
  • Virginia; roads in search
  • wheat; as crop search