Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas W. White to Thomas Jefferson, 26 January 1820

From Thomas W. White

Richmond, Jan. 26th, 1820.

Dear Sir,

I hope you will excuse intrusion in a stranger.—Believing I might obtain correct information from you, I have taken the liberty to enquire whether you could advise me to the publication of any work, which you think there would be a probability of succeeding by subscription.

Having been regularly bred to the Printing-Business, and believing myself to be perfectly adequate to the task, I should calculate to issue as elegant a work as perhaps any which may have appeared in this Country.

I beg you will appreciate this in the light it is intended.—In friendship.

An answer, as soon as practicable, is solicited By your devoted Servant,

Thomas W. White.

RC (DLC); between dateline and salutation: “Mr Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Feb. 1820 and so recorded in SJL.

Thomas Willis White (1788–1843), printer and publisher, was born in Williamsburg and moved with his family to Norfolk around 1790 and to Richmond the following year. Apprenticed to the printers of the Virginia Federalist about 1799, he relocated to Washington with them in 1800. White returned to Richmond in 1807 and worked in printing in that city for about a year. He continued in that profession in Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Boston successively, finally returning in 1817 to Richmond, where he established his own printing business. White published a wide variety of books, including legislative journals, and in 1834 he founded the Southern Literary Messenger, with Edgar Allan Poe joining him as an editor from 1835 to 1837. After several years of poor health, White died in Richmond. He owned eight slaves in 1840, and at the time of his death his personal property was valued at $11,444.50, including outstanding subscriptions to the Southern Literary Messenger (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines [1930–38; repr. 1970], 1:629–44; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:99; DNA: RG 29, CS, Richmond, 1820–40; Richmond Enquirer and Washington Daily National Intelligencer, both 21 Jan. 1843; Southern Literary Messenger 9 [1843]: 65; Richmond Hustings Court Will Book, 9:573–5, 11:53–66, 326–9).

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; advice for publishers search
  • White, Thomas Willis; as printer search
  • White, Thomas Willis; identified search
  • White, Thomas Willis; letter from search