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    Thomas Jefferson Autograph Letter Signed "Th. Jefferson." One page, with integral address sheet, 6.25" x 7.5", Richmond; November 24, 1780. Jefferson, serving as Governor of Virginia, writes to Brigadier General Robert Lawson, in Petersburg, Virginia, concerning news that British ships were departing Virginia for South Carolina, plans for the resumption of sending Virginia troops to South Carolina to reinforce the American forces there, and the possibility of British troops coming north from the South to reinvade Virginia.


    Since writing the letter which accompanies this I have received a letter from Genl. Nelson dated Richneck. Nov. 22. 5. o'clock P.M. inclosing a note from New-port's news point probably of the same day which gives information that the enemy's vessels were then all under way except one which was also getting under way, and that the whole appeared to be standing out for the Capes. It is now therefore incumbent on us to resume the business of reinforcing the Southern army as the army which has left us will probably be marched immediately up towards Cambden [Camden] and Ld. Cornwallis will then have a prospect at least of treading back his lost steps and penetrating further Northwardly. I am Sir with great respect Your most obedt servt.,

    Th: Jefferson"

    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) served two terms as governor on Virginia. He was reelected to his second term in June 1780. From October 1780 through February 1781 he faced a constant threat of invasion of his state by British troops under the command of Major General Alexander Leslie and then General Benedict Arnold. In October 1780, Leslie's army, stationed on the British fleet in Hampton Roads came ashore, raiding various parts of the state to keep Virginia militia units from going to South Carolina to fight against General Charles Cornwallis' invasion of that state. As governor, Jefferson had to balance need to provide Virginia troops to assist the Continental Army and the need to martial state militia forces to meet an expected British invasion. In this letter, Jefferson states that he's received information indicating British ships were on the move along the coast. He was not sure where they were headed, however. With Leslie's troops no longer on Virginia soil, Jefferson urged General Robert Lawson (1748-1805), a brigadier general of the Virginia militia, to resume sending militia troops to aid American forces in South Carolina. Jefferson also indicates that General Cornwallis may move his army north and invade Virginia. British troops eventually did invade Virginia in early January 1781 under the command of General Benedict Arnold occupied the capital city of Richmond, forcing Jefferson and the General Assembly to flee, and nearly capturing Jefferson at Monticello.

    An interesting letter that shows Jefferson, as Governor, was keeping on top of the military situation in Virginia.

    Condition: Lightly age toned, with flattened folds. Tiny bit of paper loss at right margin near top does not affect any text. Light soiling to address panel. Professional restoration, adding paper where seal was torn open. Repairs to separations along integral fold. Annotation in pencil on interior page.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2020
    12th Thursday
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