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    Thomas Jefferson Autograph Letter Signed as Vice President. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", Monticello; October 28, 1799. Letter to George Ruffin, a fellow Virginian, acknowledging the receipt of a piece of armor the latter had sent to Jefferson and asking Ruffin to find information on a sister of a Mr. Symonds, a recent correspondent.


    Colo. Skipwith, in a late visit to me, delivered me in your name an antient piece of armour, which he informed me had been turned up by a plough in a field of your neighborhood. it appears to be the true cotte de mailles, or hauberk of antient times, & a very sufficient defence against the arrows of the Indian aborigines of our country, and was doubtless brought over for that purpose. I recieve [sic], Sir, with the sentiments which are due, this mark of regard from you, and I pray you to accept my sincere thanks for it. I shall certainly prize & preserve it as a rare curiosity.

    I have lately recieved [sic], from a mr Symonds in England, a letter from which the following is an extract. 'I had, says he, a sister married about 20 years since to a mr Avery of Wiloby hill, Prince George county, up James river, Virginia. I have heard nothing of her now for more than 8 years, notwithstanding I have wrote one or two letters to her every year, & have made every other enquiry I can think of, but all to no purpose. previous to that time I generally heard from her once a year. therefore I have every reason to believe she is no more. in some of my last letters I was desired to address him as Colonel Avery of Wiloby hill &c &c &c. to the care of Messrs. Donald & Fraser merchts. in Petersburg.' he then proceeds to desire me 'to make enquiry & let him know if she is dead, or living, & what is become of her husband & children, (she had five when she wrote last)' Mr. Symonds is an entire stranger to me, having never before heard of him: but this is an office of common humanity which we are all bound to render one another. having no acquaintance myself in Prince George, I think myself fortunate in this occasion of interesting you for my correspondent, and solliciting [sic] from your goodness to procure for me the information he desires, & to enable me to answer his letter.

    If time and separation have not entirely obliterated me from the remembrance of your father, who was my fellow collegian, I pray you to present him my friendly salutations, & to assure him of my constant esteem. I am respectfully Sir

    Your most obedt humble servt

    Th: Jefferson

    George Ruffin (1765-1810), a planter, lived in Prince George County, Virginia. He served two terms in the Virginia House of Delegates beginning in 1803. Edmund Ruffin (1794-1865), the nineteenth-century agricultural reformer and famous proponent of secession, was his son. Ruffin's father, Edmund (1745-1807) and attended William and Mary during the period 1761-63, when Jefferson was there. Ruffin, in his reply to Jefferson on November 30, 1799, confirmed that Mr. Symonds's sister had died five years earlier.

    An interesting letter showing Jefferson's esteem for historical artifacts and his willingness to remain accessible, during his tenure as Vice President of the United States.

    Condition: A bit of adhesive staining where paper has been added along the left margin. Mild age toning, a bit darker at lower left. Previous collector's identification in pencil along top. Tiny chips of paper along bottom, not affecting Jefferson's signature.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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