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    Thomas Jefferson's daughter returns to Monticello - "a place so often deserted by it's master"

    Martha Jefferson Randolph Autograph Letter Signed "M. Randolph." Two and three-quarters pages, 7.75" x 9.5", Monticello, April 21, 1803. Just two years into Thomas Jefferson's first term, his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, has returned to Monticello (likely from the White House where she sometimes served as her father's first lady) and writes this letter informing Catherine Wistar Backe, "Mrs. Doctor Bache," of Pennsylvania of her husband's progressing campaign for the U.S. Congress. When the letter ends, she doesn't know the outcome of the election but promises the results to Mrs. Bache "by the next post." In part as written:

    "A thousand thanks my Dear Mrs. Bache for your very friendly letter, and I am equally obliged to you for the friendly[?] construction you were so good as to put upon my apparent neglect of it - it found me the second day after my arrival at this place, in the midst of unpacking opening arranging and all the various etcetera's of beginning to keep house at a place so often deserted by it's master, and where at all times there is so much to do. That occasioned the loss of a post, and before the return of an other my children had begun to break out with the measles which has since been going through the family, attended by consequences as bad as the disorder itself, no physician in the neighborhood and Mr. Randolph constantly absent upon the very charming business of canvassing[?]. You can form no idea of the trouble and anxiety I have had in the last 6 weeks. . . . Mr. R has offered for Congress, in this county he got 511 votes to 96 only against him, and would have gotten many more but the crowd in the court obliged upward of a hundred persons to go away with out voting . . . however he lost in Amherst more than he gained in Albermarle owing to the truly regal influence of the Cabell, who possess all the wealth and that sort of respectability which wealth gives, in the county Mr. Rs friend, not daring to oppose them stayed generally at home the most determined and independent of them formed a guard about his person to protect him from insult, a necessary precaution in a county many degrees more savage & ferocious than any thing we have been accustomed to. Their election was not as full as ours and 60 of those bad votes which may if occasion should require be expunged. Fluvanna [Virginia] will decide the contest it remaining with her to give a majority. the event is however vastly doubtfull so much so as to baffle all human calculation from the misfortune of a weak stomach which will not allow Mr. R to drink grog with the people and his total want of a musical ear which absolutely incapacitates him from dancing with them. . . . their majesties, the people, must decide the contest between a sound head & heart on one side and a pair of light heel and capacious stomach on the other after having impartially (I hope) weighed the merits of the contending parties they will in the plenitude of their wisdom (I had all most said drunkeness) decide and what ever that decision is you shall hear by the next post."

    The eldest of Jefferson's two daughters, Mrs. Randolph, nicknamed "Patsy," was born at Monticello in 1772, ten years before her mother, Martha Jefferson, died. When she wrote this, Mrs. Randolph had already given birth to six of her eventual eleven children. The presence of the measles among those six makes her complaint of "the trouble and anxiety . . . of the last six weeks" understandable. Increasing her anxiety was the congressional race her husband, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr., was running. From the wealthy and influential Virginia Randolph family - direct descendents of John Rolfe and Pocahontas - and loved by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Randolph was struggling by 1803 with alcoholism and an unknown nervous disorder. Still, he won the election and went on to serve Virginia in other capacities, including the governorship (1819-1822). After her father's death in 1826, Martha Jefferson Randolph inherited Monticello. Her letters are scarce, rarely surfacing at auction. This example is toned with smoothed folds. A tear and loss of paper due to the original breaking of the seal have resulted in a small loss of text in Mrs. Randolph's closing paragraph.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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