Thomas Jefferson Papers

Hannah to Thomas Jefferson, 15 November 1818

From Hannah

November 15th 1818


I write you a few lines to let you know that your house and furniture are all safe as I expect you would be glad to know I heard that you did not expect to come up this fall I was sorry to hear that you was so unwell you could not come it greive me many time but I hope as you have been so blessed in this that you considered it was god that done it and no other one we all ought to be thankful for what he has done for us we ought to serve and obey his commandments that you may set to win the prize and after glory run

master I donot1 my ignorant letter will be much encouragement to you as know I am a poor ignorunt creature, this leaves us all well

adieu, I am your humble sarvant


RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Hanah” received 18 Nov. 1818. An image of this letter is reproduced elsewhere in this volume.

Hannah (b. 1770), one of TJ’s slaves, was the daughter of Cate (later Cate Hubbard). Apparently born at Monticello, she was at Poplar Forest by 1791, when the birth of her first child was recorded there. By about 1797 she was the wife of Hall, an enslaved blacksmith and hog keeper at Poplar Forest. Hannah worked as a laborer at its Tomahawk plantation. She also worked as a spinner and was TJ’s cook and laundress when he or his guests visited Poplar Forest. Hannah was still there late in 1823, a year after Elizabeth Trist described her as having “the care of the House” (Betts, Farm Book description begins Edwin M. Betts, ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, 1953 (in two separately paginated sections; unless otherwise specified, references are to the second section) description ends , pt. 1; Lucia Stanton, “Those Who Labor for My Happiness”: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello [2012], 23, 165; TJ’s Instructions for Poplar Forest Management, Dec. 1811; Ellen W. Randolph [Coolidge] to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 14 Apr. 1818 [ViU: Coolidge Correspondence]; Joel Yancey to TJ, 19 Nov., 12 Dec. 1819; TJ to Yancey, 16 Mar. 1820, 15 Aug. 1821; Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph [Trist], 24 Apr. 1821 [NcU: NPT]; Elizabeth Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 28 Nov. 1822 [DLC: NPT]; List of Poplar Forest Slaves, [ca. 16–31 Dec. 1823]).

you may set to win the prize and after glory run paraphrases the Bible, 1 Corinthians 9.24: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”

1Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • Bible; 1 Corinthians referenced search
  • Hannah (Hanah) (TJ’s slave; b.1770); identified search
  • Hannah (Hanah) (TJ’s slave; b.1770); letter from search
  • Hannah (Hanah) (TJ’s slave; b.1770); sends greetings to TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; staphylococcus infection search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); slaves at search
  • slaves; letters from search
  • staphylococcus; TJ infected with search
  • women; letters from; Hannah (TJ’s slave; b.1770) search