Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John A. Robertson, 29 December 1820

To John A. Robertson

Monticello Dec. 29. 20.


I have duly recieved your favor of the 20th and see in it a great proof of your candor and justice. of the two great parties which divided our nation in it’s early stage, the one wished to strengthen the hands of the Executive, the other of the Representative branch of the government. the latter was my own disposition, resulting from reading, experience and reflection; and my election to the Executive functions was considered as evidence that such was the wish of the majority of our citizens. that the course I pursued should not be immediately satisfactory to the Minority, was to be expected: but I have ever hoped that, like yourself, others, on a calm and dispassionat[e] review of my administration, would do justice to the integrity of my course, if not to it’s wisdom, and would acquit my errors of any obliquities of intention.

I learn with pleasure your election of this part of our country for your future habitation. it has certainly the advantages of a ferti[le] soil, navigation, healthy and temperate climate, and of an industrious, independant and orderly population; and the neighborhood of the University will ensure a choice addition to our society. our bar is pretty much crouded, not defective in talent, and one member of it particularly of great eminence, now a representative in Congress. still talent in a new comer will make it’s way.

Towards the enterprise you propose, of writing the history of our country, the first object will be the obtaining materials. of these you have no doubt satisfied yourself of the resources. I formerly possessed1 some store of that kind: but all which were printed, and much of what was MS. went to Congress with my library, and the few loose notes I retained were communicated to mr Girardin while writing his volume of our latter history. if any aids remain however within my power, they shall be freely furnished.

I am bound particularly to thank you for the kind sentiments expressed towards myself, and I tender you the assurance of my great respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); edge trimmed; in left margin near bottom of first page: “Mr John A. Robertson.”

The attorney of great eminence was probably Philip P. Barbour.

1Manuscript: “possesses.”

Index Entries

  • Albemarle County, Va.; TJ on search
  • Barbour, Philip Pendleton; as U.S. representative from Va. search
  • Congress, U.S.; members of search
  • Federalist party; TJ on search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and J. D. Burk’sHistory of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; political divisions search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as president search
  • Library of Congress; TJ sells personal library to search
  • politics; factionalism search
  • Republican party; TJ on search
  • Robertson, John Archer; and politics search
  • Robertson, John Archer; letter to search
  • Robertson, John Archer; plans move to Albemarle Co. search
  • Robertson, John Archer; proposed history of Va. by search
  • The History of Virginia (J. D. Burk, S. Jones, and L. H. Girardin); TJ’s role in preparation of search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; site of search