James Madison Papers

Thomas Jefferson Randolph to James Madison, 7 December 1828


My Grandfather, the late Thomas Jefferson devised, by his will, his library to the University of Virginia He likewise suggested a wish that his bust, executed by Ciracci, with the pedestal and truncated column on which it stands, should be presented by his executor to that institution. It has ever been my most earnest desire, to comply with all his wishes, and particularly with this, but the deeply embarrassed state in which his affairs were left, renders it extremely doubtfull, whether his property will be sufficient to meet claims upon it of a higher dignity. Under these circumstances, my duty as executor, compells me to withhold the payment of legacies untill the debts are discharged.

The breaking up of his establishment, the sale of his effects and the dispersion of his family, will leave the library exposed to injury: I must therefore ask to be allowed to deposit it, at the University, in charge of your librarian subject to my future order, should it become necessary to expose it to sale for the discharge of claims of a superior nature. The bust not being mentioned in the will, but being the subject of an informal direction to his executor, can not be deemed a specific legacy and deeply mortifying as it is, he is compelled to offer it for sale with the residue of his property in discharge of claims upon it. Feelings of the most affectionate devotion to my grandfathers memory would induce me as his executor to fulfill his wishes upon these points at all risks, but that of injustice, to his creditors, and the fear that his memory might be stained, with the reproach of a failure to comply with any of his engagements; an assurance is therefore given, that when his debts are discharged, however much his family may be straightened in their circumstances, no considerations of pecuniary interests or of their individual distress will bar immediate compliance Respectfully

Th: J. Randolph

Executor of Th Jefferson

RC (ViU). Addressed to the Rector and Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia.

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