Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from R.B. Randolph, 25 July 1808

Petersburg July 25. 1808

Can a Man of Benign worth whose sanguine exertions are contributed to the wellfare of that A mo: respectable Lady whom he represents recieve the Ill pened & [cr]iss of an unmeriting disconsolate Mariner.

Yes! have I the temerity—& presumption to proclaim to the Universe that he whom I dare presume to address is surely the mo: magnanimous of men, & placed in the pinacle of the enlightend western hemisphere that alone Is capable of judging with unjaundiced eye.

The theme of my narration methinks you wait in anxious expectation. I Know well to weigh each in its just balence & to appreciate accordingly to its merits and demerits.

My time seemed to be marked by a peculiarity not but very rarely to be met with in the annals of history on having to struggle against the rude wave of an overwhelming sea & buffeting in the tempestuous main for 45 days on the [. . . .] launch of the ship Fame, foundered In the China seas on—the Coast of Coromandel from whence we were relieved by his majesty’s ship Cyremeister of Pt. Java & as compensation were detained on bd: 10 hr: & then set at liberty Calcutta there to shift without even the paultry donation of a rupee, this Is British hospitality.

I embarked from thence in a scotch ship bound to Jamaica laden with light goods teas &c suitable to the climate, but by the Capt: dishonesty in endeavouring to defraud the customs the ship &c were seized & sold accordingly to the act of Parliament, being thus situated & the pleasing prospect of another ship of war to embark in, I deemed it mo: adviseable to depart from those inhospitable Colonies & seek an Assylum in my native land, & sail with inexpressible joy my long lost departed country of nearly 7 years. But mark the event after a pleasant passage of 25 days we made Cape Henry light–house & immediately had the pleasing relief of a pilot to conduct us for Alexandria, who brought the melancholy tidings of an embargo, expectations of warfare with the Bilegerint powers of [. . . .] &c &c On our arrival I immediately departed for Petersburg to find out my long absent parents &c but to my sad mortification they were no more. an avaricious creditor had siezed on the estate & the whole is naught but desolation. I could wish myself in the Fame’s launch again, there to perish rather than experience as ever be the eye witness of such Inhumanity. In a strange (tho’ my natural country) and desolate place the Evidence of my executors ever since the settlement of b V-a. & not one friend to whom I may apply for any pecuniary assistance, devested of every resource, unaccustomed to tilling the earth & no other altirnative, must entreat Sir that you will mitigate the case by yr: commiseration & if ever however small the donation, will be thankfully recd: from Dr: Sir yr: very obedt. faithful humble servt. with every sentiment of grateful esteem of veneration & respect.

R. B Randolph

MHi: Coolidge Collection.

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