Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Peter S. Du Ponceau, 28 December 1820

To Peter S. Du Ponceau

Monticello Dec. 28. 20.

Dear Sir

This letter is strictly confidential. some time ago a mr John Sanderson, of Philada, addressed a letter to me, informing me he was engaged in a biographical work which embraced the life of our late Chancellor Wythe, of whom however his materials were scanty, & requesting me to supply him. of the Mentor of my youth I felt the duty of bearing witnesses to his virtues, and furnished what I knew. lately he sent me his 1st vol. and indeed I found it superiorly written; exhibiting mind, information & polish. a little too florid perhaps for the sober style of history, of which however he had a great example in Robertson; perhaps also a little too speculative, in which history should indulge with the brevity of Tacitus. as it is possible he may apply to me as to other characters of his work, & these communications may be delicate, it is material I should know something more of him. what is his character moral and political, does he write for money or fame, Etc? information as to these particulars must govern my confidences, and with a view to regulate them alone I ask the favor of your information, with an assurance it shall be used for no other purpose, and that your letter shall be burnt the moment it is perused. with my thanks for this kind office accept my friendly and respectful salutations.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection); addressed: “Peter S. Duponceau esq. Philadelphia”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 30 Dec. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Ezra Stiles Ely to TJ, 14 June 1819; endorsed by TJ.

Index Entries

  • Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (J. Sanderson) search
  • books; biographical search
  • books; on history search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; and J. Sanderson search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; letters to search
  • Robertson, William (1721–93); TJ on historical writings of search
  • Sanderson, John; Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence search
  • Sanderson, John; TJ inquires about search
  • Tacitus; writings of search
  • Wythe, George; biographies of search
  • Wythe, George; TJ on search