Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Peter Poinsot, 25 November 1818

To Peter Poinsot

Monticello in Virginia. Nov. 25. 18


Your letter of May 18. and it’s duplicate were recieved in Aug. and September. in proposing me to you as an agent to look after yo[ur]1 lands on the Kanhaway, my deceased friend General Kosciusko must have considered me as continuing stationary at what I was when he last saw me. I then retained health and vigor enough of body & mind to be useful to others. but 20. additional years have made great change. at the age of 75. and much enfeebled, I have been obliged to give up the manag[e]ment of my own affairs to others. your lands are 300. miles from my res[i]dence, in a part with which we have no communication. & where I do not know a single person who might be engaged to act for you. I made an effort however thro’ a friend, a member of our legislature, to enquire first in the land office for the state of the land, and to endeavor to find out some one in it’s neighborhood who could undertake to look after them.2 the result of his enquiries at the land office will appear in the inclose[d] papers: but he could hear of no one in that part of the country who coul[d] be engaged to make the enquiries you desire. I must return the case therefore to you with the apology Senex sum et curis laevissimis imp[ar.’] if the lands are fertile, and the title not lost by abandonment, they must b[e] of very great value; they would possibly command 20. or 30. Dollars the acre. you will consider therefore whether they may not be worth the3 mission of a special agent, who landing at Washington or Baltimor[e] would get a passage by the stage to the neighborhood of the land, in a distance of between 1. and 200. miles. with my regrets that I can be no further useful to you accept the assurance of my great respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of William Kean to TJ, 23 July 1818; edge trimmed; at foot of text: “M. Poinsot des Essarts Cette”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: first enclosure to Poinsot to TJ, 25 June 1817. Enclosed in TJ to Albert Gallatin, 24 Nov. 1818, and TJ to Daniel Brent, 27 Nov. 1818.

TJ may have also enclosed here the letters to him of 6 and 13 Feb. 1818 from Joseph C. Cabell (a member of our legislature) concerning Poinsot’s claim. The phrase senex sum et curis laevissimis imp[ar] comes from Tacitus, Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers.) description ends , 14.54, in which Seneca the Younger uses these words to apologize to the Roman emperor Nero that he is “an old man and unequal to the lightest of cares” (Tacitus, trans. Maurice Hutton, William Peterson, Clifford H. Moore, John Jackson, and others, Loeb Classical Library [1914–37; repr. ca. 2006], 5:192–3).

1Word faint.

2Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

3Manuscript: “a the.”

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on his own search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and P. Poinsot’s land grant search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; aging search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Literary Quotes; Tacitus search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; and P. Poinsot’s land grant search
  • Poinsot, Peter; land grant to search
  • Poinsot, Peter; letter to search
  • Tacitus; TJ quotes search
  • Virginia; land grants in search
  • Virginia; Land Office search