Thomas Jefferson Papers

John P. Van Ness to Thomas Jefferson, 5 July 1822

From John P. Van Ness

Washington July 5th. 1822.—


Mr Henry Middleton Jnr of S. Carolina, Son of our Minister at St Petersburgh, having intimated to me that, being about to visit Virginia, he would probably do himself the honor of giving you a call, I take the liberty of offering him this line of Introduction to you—a liberty for which I have no doubt that, after an acquaintance with him, you will feel disposed to excuse me.—

With Mrs Van Ness’ & my own, friendly regards to Mrs, Miss, & Govr Randolph, as well as yourself,

I remain with high consideration & respect your obedt, hble Servant

John P. Van Ness

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 11 July 1822 and so recorded (with additional bracketed notation: “by Henry Middleton”) in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with FC of TJ to Frederick A. Mayo, 13 Oct. 1824, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Hond by Mr H. Middleton Jnr.”

John Peter Van Ness (1769–1846), attorney, soldier, banker, and public official, was a native of Columbia County, New York. Having graduated in 1789 from Columbia College (later Columbia University), he studied law, was admitted to the New York bar, and established a legal practice. Van Ness was a presidential elector for TJ and Aaron Burr in 1800 and represented New York as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives, 1801–03, before accepting an appointment from TJ as a militia major in the District of Columbia. He settled permanently in the nation’s capital, rose to the rank of major general of militia during the War of 1812, was one of James Madison’s commissioners of public buildings, and served as president of the Bank of the Metropolis, 1814–46. Elected a Washington alderman in 1829, Van Ness was also the city’s mayor, 1830–34. He owned twelve slaves in 1820, seven a decade later, and four in 1840. Van Ness was buried in an elaborate mausoleum he had constructed for his wife in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–Present, online resource, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives description ends ; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 45 vols. description ends , 36:81–2, 38:680, 40:623–4; Thomas, Columbia University Officers and Alumni description begins Milton Halsey Thomas, Columbia University Officers and Alumni, 1754–1857, 1936 description ends , 112; Hudson [N.Y.] Gazette, 8 Jan. 1799; ASP, Miscellaneous, 1:336; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 11 May 1813, 12 Jan. 1814, 3 June 1829, 8 June 1830, 6 Nov. 1834, 9 Mar. 1846; Madison, Papers, Pres. Ser., 9:71; DNA: RG 29, CS, D.C., Washington, 1820–40).

Henry Middleton (1797–1876), soldier, author, and namesake son of TJ’s correspondent Henry Middleton (1770–1846), was born in Paris, France. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1815 and served as a second lieutenant of engineers in the United States Army until the summer of the following year. Middleton read law under Tapping Reeve and James Gould in Litchfield in 1817, studied in Edinburgh, and qualified for the South Carolina bar in 1822. He spent much of his time thereafter traveling in Europe and America and writing. Prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War, he published works in which he opposed protective tariffs and the issuance of paper currency, examined the economic causes of slavery, and argued that the harsh southern climate made it a necessity for agriculture. Middleton was living in 1870 as a farmer in Asheville, North Carolina, where he owned real estate and personal property worth $20,000 and $1,500, respectively. He died during a visit to Washington, D.C. (South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 1 [1900]: 246; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:708; The Litchfield Law School, 1784–1833 [1900], 18; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.C., Asheville, 1870; Washington National Republican, 16 Mar. 1876).

Index Entries

  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); greetings sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Middleton, Henry (1770–1846); family of search
  • Middleton, Henry (1797–1876); identified search
  • Middleton, Henry (1797–1876); introduced to TJ search
  • Middleton, Henry (1797–1876); visits Monticello search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Middleton, Henry (1797–1876) search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings sent to search
  • Van Ness, John Peter; identified search
  • Van Ness, John Peter; introduces H. Middleton (1797–1876) search
  • Van Ness, John Peter; letter from search
  • Van Ness, Marcia Burnes (John Peter Van Ness’s wife) search