Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Leiper, 3 November 1821

To Thomas Leiper

Monto Nov. 3. 21.

Dr Sir

This will be handed you by mr [Watson]1 a student of medecine of this neighborhood who goes to Philada to compleat his studies in that line.2 having no acquantance there he naturally wishes that his standing & character in his own state may be known to somebody there, and being the eleve of my family physician, & having under him attended me kindly & assiduously thro’ a long illness I feel myself3 bound to bear witness to the truth for him by assuring you that he is a gentleman of great worth & perfect correctness of conduct. and I give the assurance to you because I have known nobody there longer or with more esteem than yourself.4 indeed it is so long since we have exchanged a line that it is time to ask each other5 if all is well. it is so with me.6 I hope it is so with you, and that so it may continue to the end of as long a chapter of life as you wish7 is the prayer I offer with the assurance of my constant frdshp & respect.


Dft (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos Lieper esq.”; endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL with additional bracketed notation: “by Dr Watson.”

Fontaine Watson (1796–1838), physician, studied medicine by 1821 under TJ’s own doctor, Thomas G. Watkins, before briefly attending the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1822 with an essay on pneumonia. He was practicing medicine in Evansham (later Wytheville) by 1830, including a period in the medical partnership of Watson & Sanders with Daniel B. Sanders. At the time of his death Watson owned the property in Evansham where he lived, which was valued at $1,500, and $4,204.32 in personal property, including three slaves (TJ’s Account with Watkins, [after 20 Jan. 1821]; Catalogue of the Medical Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania [2d ed., 1839], 82; DNA: RG 29, CS, Evansham, 1830; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1843–44 sess.], 100 [15 Feb. 1844]; gravestone inscription in Saint John Lutheran Church Cemetery, Wytheville; Wythe Co. Will Book, 5:150–3, 176–94).

eleve: “student.”

1Surname editorially supplied in space TJ left blank.

2Preceding three words interlined.

3Preceding two words interlined in place of “am.”

4Preceding two words interlined.

5Preceding two words interlined in place of “mutually.”

6Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

7Reworked from “continue as long as you wish for life.”

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; illness of search
  • Leiper, Thomas; letters to search
  • Leiper, Thomas; TJ introduces F. Watson to search
  • Watkins, Thomas G.; as physician search
  • Watson, Fontaine; as apprentice of T. G. Watkins search
  • Watson, Fontaine; identified search
  • Watson, Fontaine; TJ introduces search