Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Robert Patterson, 7 November 1820

To Robert Patterson

Monticello Nov. 7. 20.

Dear Sir

This letter will be handed to you by mr H. B. Trist, son of a gentleman of the same name a native of Philadelphia whom I think you must have known when young. he was the grandson of mrs House long & well known in that city.   he goes to your University for the benefit of your Mathematical instruction in the first place, and to attend some other branches of science. he has been an inmate with us at Monticello occasionally for a year or two, so that I can say on my own knolege that a more diligent student or a more correct & well disposed youth I have never known; and possessing an excellent genius. being young he may need the counsel of a friend, and your’s, whenever he may need, he will recieve with thankfulness, and my thanks will be added to his.

I salute you always with friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “Doctor Robert Patterson Philadelphia. favored by Mr Trist.” PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of John Laval to TJ, 24 June 1819; endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL as conveyed “by H. B. Trist.”

In a letter to his brother Nicholas P. Trist, dated Charlottesville, 3 Aug. 1820, Hore Browse Trist reported that Gerard E. Stack had written to Patterson at the university of Pennsylvania on his behalf, “requesting to know whether I could enter the Junior class (the Second) at the same time giving him an account of the progress I had made in the usual studies. Mr P. replied in the affirmative, stating that the session began in September. the certainty of being able to enter the junior class is another inducement to my going to Philadelphia, as I could certainly get a degree of B.A in two years.” Trist went on to say that he planned to devote some time to “reading Bezouts Algebra & reviewing the six books of E. [i.e., Euclid] although Mr Jefferson thinks them of no use” (RC in DLC: NPT).

Having determined to attend the University of Pennsylvania, based in part on the advice of William A. Burwell, Trist wrote to his brother again from Monticello on 11 Nov. 1820, stating that Burwell was to give him letters of introduction to friends in Philadelphia and that while TJ “gave me one to Mr Patterson he could recollect no other person.” He added that TJ “left us to day for Poplar Forest accompanied by Miss E. & miss V. [Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) and Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)] they expect to remain until Christmas” (RC in DLC: NPT).

After receiving a letter dated 20 Jan. 1821 from her grandson Hore Browse Trist in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Trist passed on the news that “he was invited by Mr Patterson to spend the evening with him where he met with a Party of 30 Gentlemen the literati of Phild.” She also remarked that “we have experienced very severe weather have had nine snows which kept possession of the ground till within a day or two and we are threatend with more Virginia wrote me that the Thermometer was as low as five at the Mountain, some days the weather has been very cold than become moderate the Severest cold we have had commenced on the evening of the 24th Jany and Continued till the 26th,” and she reported that “a son of Wilson Nicholas is going to establish him self on the Red River and I understand that Jefferson Randolph intends embark on that scheme but I am certain that neither his Grand Father or Mother will ever consent to his going to reside there” (Elizabeth Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, Farmington, 9 Feb. 1820 [1821] [RC in NcU: NPT]).

Index Entries

  • Bézout, Étienne; Théorie Générale des Equations Algébriques search
  • books; on mathematics search
  • Burwell, William Armistead; and H. B. Trist search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Poplar Forest search
  • Elements (Euclid) search
  • Euclid; Elements search
  • House, Mary search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • mathematics; books on search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Trist, Hore Browse search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); weather recorded at search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); family of search
  • Patterson, Robert; and University of Pennsylvania search
  • Patterson, Robert; letters to search
  • Patterson, Robert; TJ introduces H. B. Trist to search
  • Pennsylvania, University of search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ’s grandchildren visit search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); children of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); proposed move of search
  • schools and colleges; University of Pennsylvania search
  • scientific instruments; thermometers search
  • Stack, Gerard E.; and Charlottesville Academy search
  • Théorie Générale des Equations Algébriques (É. Bézout) search
  • thermometers; and meteorological observations search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; and grandchildren’s education search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on T. J. Randolph search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on the weather search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1775–1804); family of search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); education of search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); introduced by TJ search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); visits Monticello search
  • Trist, Nicholas Philip; correspondence with H. B. Trist search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); correspondence with E. Trist search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Poplar Forest search
  • weather; cold search
  • weather; snow search
  • weather; temperature readings search