Thomas Jefferson Papers

Salma Hale to William Plumer, 8 May 1818

II. Salma Hale to William Plumer

Charlottesville. Virginia May 8th 1818

Dear Sir,

I spent yesterday with Mr Jefferson. In conversation he was quite unrestrained, bestowing praise or censure wherever he thought either deserved.

He laments much that no good history has ever yet been published of our revolution. That by Botta, an Italian, he thinks best. Speaking of yours he regreted that you had not begun at the close of the revolutionary war, as he might then hope to see a history of a period concerning which the public know even less than of the preceding one. You might afterwards go back as Hume did. He observed that Barlow once promised to write such a history, & that he furnished him with three cases of documents, but he never wrote a word nor opened the cases, which were afterwards returned & are now in the Congressional Library. He thinks the letters of men in active life are the best documents.

If I can be of service to you at Washington next winter in searching the library, remember to command me

Monticello is a delightful retreat—The country around is tolerably fertile—the roads execrable. Mr J’s house is enclosed by a forest

With great respect
Your Obdt Servant

S. Hale

RC (DLC: Plumer Papers); addressed: “His Excellency William Plumer Epping N.H”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 9 May.

In the latter part of his presidency TJ offered to supply Plumer with materials for a history of the United States. He regretted (regreted) Plumer’s ambitious decision to start the work with the discovery of America, and in fact the author did not complete or publish it (Plumer to TJ, 27 Apr. 1810, and note). David Hume began his influential history of England with a volume on the reigns of James I and Charles I and afterwards extended it backwards and forwards from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ).

Index Entries

  • Albemarle County, Va.; roads in search
  • American Revolution; TJ on search
  • Barlow, Joel; historical writings of search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America search
  • Hale, Salma; letter from, to W. Plumer search
  • Hale, Salma; visits Monticello search
  • Hume, David; The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; by S. Hale search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; D. Hume’sHistory of England search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; historical works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; papers of public figures search
  • Library of Congress; documents owned by search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); described search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Hale, Salma search
  • Plumer, William; historical and biographical writings of search
  • Plumer, William; letter to, from S. Hale search
  • Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America (C. G. G. Botta) search
  • The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 (D. Hume) search
  • Virginia; roads in search
  • Virginia; soil of search