Thomas Jefferson Papers

Hiram Haines to Thomas Jefferson, 25 June 1821

From Hiram Haines

Slate Mills, Culpeper County, Virginia, June 25th 1821

Much Respected Sir,

As a prelude to my business I must commence my letter by offering an apology for the Liberty I have taken in addressing you, conscious that (from your nobleness and Generosity of heart which you have always displayed, thro’ a long and arduous life in the Service of your Country and fellow Citizens,) I shall be forgiven. To obtain a correct knowledge of our own Country in General and our native State in particular, I have always considered as the imperative duty of every American Youth, who wishes to shine as an ornament to Society, or who is emulous of being Serviceable to his Country. Ambitious to excell in these particulars, I have long Sought, but as yet have sought in vain to obtain a Book Entitled “Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia” which emanating from So noble and So learned a Gentleman as yourself, I have been naturally led to conclude, contains a Valuable store of Usefull and Interesting knowledge, worthy to be sought after and acquired by all. anxious to attain this, I have Addressed you for the purpose of enquiring if you have now any of the above named books, and if not, where can I obtain one?—If you have any, and sell them, whatever may be the price, I am willing to pay it,—but If you do not sell them & Should think me worthy of So valuable a present, the Gift will be received with pleasure and ever remembered with gratitude and respect.

As your life has been devoted to the service of your Country and the Improvement of your fellow Citizens, may you—[w]hilst living receive their undivided homage, and when the [t]ime shall come (which is drawing nigh) when it shall be Said, “That Jefferson one of the fathers of this Country is Gone”—! may you still live in their hearts as a pattern of all that is Good, Wise and Great. For a youth of Eighteen perhaps I have been too familiar, if so I ask forgiveness.—But my dear Sir, the Pillars of Strength and Beauty which have long Supported and adorned the Temple of American Liberty, have now grown infirm thro’ Service, and ere long must Sink to Silent Repose!—may those who fill their places equeal those who have gone before them—Excell them they never can!—

May the Supreme Grand Architect of the Universe make your latter days peaceful and happy, and when you Shall be Summoned to the narrow dwelling place of Man, may you meet death with fortitude and Resignation, may the Cassia Sprig—bud & blossom on Your tomb! and may You finally be raised to a Glorious Immortality! So prays him who has trod the darksome and mystic path’s, who has passed thro’ Scenes of Difficulty and danger, but who thro’ the protection of Divine Providence, has outlived them all!—

I am with Great Esteem one, who, whilst you are living will respect and admire you, and when you are dead will Reverence Your Memory

Hiram Haines

PS. If you conclude to send me the book, or directions where I may obtain it—Direct, to Hiram Haines Slate Mills Culpeper Cty Va, and it will reach me in Safety.

RC (DLC); edge torn; endorsed by TJ as received 2 July 1821 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Peter Derieux, 25 Sept. 1822, on verso; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Ex. President of the US—Monticello Albemarle County Virga”; franked; postmarked Slate Mills, Culpeper Co., 26 June.

Hiram Haines (1802–1841), journalist, poet, and coffeehouse proprietor, was born in Culpeper County. He settled in Petersburg by 1825, when he published a book of poems there entitled Mountain Buds and Blossoms, wove in a Rustic Garland. Haines edited three Petersburg newspapers: the American Constellation, 1834–38, the Peep o’Day, 1839, and the Virginia Star, 1840–41. He was an outspoken supporter of the Democrat Martin Van Buren during the latter’s election campaign and presidency. Haines was also a friend and correspondent of his fellow poet Edgar Allen Poe. He owned four slaves in 1830 and two in 1840. Haines died in Prince George County (Oscar F. Northington Jr., “The Taverns of Old Petersburg, Virginia,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 2d ser., 16 [1936]: 346; Lester J. Cappon, Virginia Newspapers, 1821–1935 [1936], 148, 151; Winifred Gregory, ed., American Newspapers, 1821–1936: A Union List of Files Available in the United States and Canada [1937], 704, 705; John Ward Ostrom, “Two Unpublished Poe Letters,” Americana 36 [1942]: 67–71; Jeffrey Abugel, Edgar Allan Poe’s Petersburg: The Untold Story of the Raven in the Cockade City [2013]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Petersburg, 1830, 1840; DLC and NcD: Haines Papers; Raleigh Register and North Carolina Gazette, 21 Feb. 1840; Richmond Enquirer, 19 Jan. 1841).

Freemasons placed the sprig of the acacia, sometimes mistakenly conflated with the cassia plant, on graves to symbolize immortality (Albert G. Mackey, The Symbolism of Freemasonry [1869], 247–62).

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  • Haines, Hiram; and TJ’sNotes on the State of Virginia search
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  • Haines, Hiram; letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; requests to borrow books from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
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