Thomas Jefferson Papers

Henry E. Watkins to Thomas Jefferson, 6 November 1818

From Henry E. Watkins

Prince Edward1 Nov 6th 1818


You were good enough to say, when I had the pleasure of seeing you in Stanton, that you would send me some of the seed of the Succory, if I would remind you of it after your return home.—It is therefore; that I now take the liberty of requesting that you would foward me a parcel of the seed of this plant; And I do this with the less reluctance, from a confidence that you think highly of its usefulness, and would be gratified in giving aid to its more extensive cultivation. I am desirous of trying it under favourable circumstances, and would be glad to be informed, (if you have leisure) what kind of soil suits it best, what is the proper time and manner of sowing it, And how it should be worked.—A package directed to me, and sent to the care of Ellis & Allan of Richmond would probably be safely received.

Yours with very great esteem

Henry E Watkins

RC (DNAL: Thomas Jefferson Correspondence, Bixby Donation); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Nov. 1818 and so recorded in SJL.

Henry Edward Watkins (1782–1856), attorney and public official, was a native of Prince Edward County. He studied successively at Hampden-Sydney College in 1796, at what is now Washington and Lee University, and at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), from which he graduated in 1801 before studying law at the College of William and Mary. Watkins represented Prince Edward County in the House of Delegates, 1812–13, 1819–21, 1822–27, and 1832–33, and he sat in the Senate of Virginia, 1833–35. During a break in his service as a delegate, Watkins saw duty as a cavalry lieutenant in the Prince Edward County militia during the War of 1812. He was a trustee of Hampden-Sydney, 1807–31 and 1836–53, sat on the Rockfish Gap Commission in 1818 that, under TJ’s leadership, chose the site of the University of Virginia, and in 1827 became the treasurer of Union Theological Seminary, then a part of Hampden-Sydney. In the 1850 census Watkins is described as a farmer with real estate valued at $89,000. At the time of his death in Prince Edward County he owned $170,000 in slaves and real estate (Elizabeth Marshall Venable, Venables of Virginia [1925], 131–2; Catalogue of the Officers and Alumni of Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, 1749–1888 [1888], 55; Princeton Catalogue description begins General Catalogue of Princeton University 1746–1906, 1908 description ends , 113; William and Mary Provisional List description begins A Provisional List of Alumni, Grammar School Students, Members of the Faculty, and Members of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. From 1693 to 1888, 1941 description ends , 42; General Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Hampden-Sidney College, 1776–1906 [1908], 16, 18; 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 ; Butler, Virginia Militia description begins Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812, 1988 description ends , 177; VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 7 [1899]: 34, 36–7; 23 [1915]: 320–1; DNA: RG 29, CS, Prince Edward Co., 1820–50; Richmond Enquirer, 24 Nov. 1835; Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser, 15 Aug. 1856; gravestone inscription in Watkins family cemetery, Prince Edward Co.; Prince Edward Co. Will Book, 10:275–9, 290–2).

1Remainder of dateline beneath signature.

Index Entries

  • chicory (succory) search
  • Ellis & Allan (Richmond firm); goods sent to search
  • seeds; chicory (succory) search
  • Watkins, Henry Edward; and seeds search
  • Watkins, Henry Edward; identified search
  • Watkins, Henry Edward; letter from search