Thomas Jefferson Papers

Francis Preston to Thomas Jefferson, 11 December 1818

From Francis Preston

Richmond. Decr 11th 1818

Dear Sir

It was with considerable difficulty I prevailed on myself the other day to call on you, believing that you were so frequently interrupted by visitors without bussiness that it must be oppressive to you—but my devotion to you politically and personally and the circumstance of your late indisposition induced me to forego the difficulty, and determine on paying my respects to you—And altho’ the hour I spent with you was extremely satisfactory to me, yet I thought it would probably be my last claim on your time—But in the Course of our conversation you mentioned your acquaintance with Dougal Stuart & Mr Leslie literary Characters of Edinburg and since my arrival at this place having recd a letter from my Son now in Europe announcing to me that he will spend the Winter in Edinburg I have tho’t it would be of singular advantage to him to be made acquainted with these gentlemen—I have therefore prevailed on myself to ask a short introductory letter in favour of him from you to them—and I will answer for it by my Character which I hold more dear than any other consideration that his deportment and integrity will be correct and unimpeachable—

You will readily perceive the solicitude of a Parent in this application by its manner, but I beg of you my Dear Sir if it is out of your ordinary Course to give letters of this sort, that you will not hesitate a moment even of giving yourself the trouble to answer this—much less to comply with the request

I am Dr Sir with great Esteem & respect Your mo obt

Frans Preston

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 17 Dec. 1818 and so recorded in SJL.

Francis Preston (1765–1835), attorney and public official, was born in Botetourt County at his family’s estate of Greenfield, studied at the College of William and Mary, 1783–87, and read law under George Wythe. He represented Montgomery County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1788–89, was a deputy commonwealth’s attorney, 1788–93, and sat in the United States House of Representatives, 1793–97. Preston moved to Washington County in 1793 and settled in Abingdon in 1810. He was a county justice, sheriff, and master of his Masonic lodge. Active in the Washington County militia by 1799, Preston commanded a regiment in the War of 1812 and eventually attained the rank of major general. He returned to the House of Delegates, 1813–14, and served in the Senate of Virginia, 1817–20. Preston died in Columbia, South Carolina, while visiting his son William C. Preston. At his death his personal property was valued at $22,731.50, including forty-one slaves (Lewis Preston Summers, History of Southwest Virginia, 1746–1786, Washington County, 1777–1870 [1903], esp. 755–6; 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 , 33; 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 ; Preston to TJ, 1 Jan. [1809] [ViW: TC-JP]; Butler, Virginia Militia description begins Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812, 1988 description ends , 209, 235, 307–8; DNA: RG 29, CS, Washington Co., 1810, 1820, Abingdon, 1830; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 8 June 1835; Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, 16 June 1835; Washington Co. Will Book, 7:63–4, 66–7; gravestone inscription in Aspenvale Cemetery, Seven Mile Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letterpress Edition, 1892–99, 10 vols. description ends Smyth Co.).

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Leslie, Sir John; introduction to sought search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Preston, Francis search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Preston, Francis; identified search
  • Preston, Francis; letter from search
  • Preston, Francis; visits Monticello search
  • Preston, William Campbell; TJ introduces search
  • Stewart, Dugald; TJ introduces W. C. Preston to search