Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 15 January 1815

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Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, dated January 15, 1815. Image from the Library of Congress, The Thomas Jefferson Papers.

In late 1814, Louis Hue Girardin sent Thomas Jefferson a copy of the manuscript for volume four of John Burk's History of Virginia, which was completed by Girardin and Skelton Jones, the last volume of which was published in 1816.[1] Although parts of their correspondence are missing, Girardin had requested details from Jefferson regarding revolutionary and pre-revolutionary Virginia, including the influence of George Wythe. Jefferson mentions dining with acting Governor Fauquier, Wythe, and Professor William Small of the College of William & Mary: "[A]t these dinners I have heard more good sense, more rational and philosophical conversations than in all my life besides." Girardin quoted or paraphrased Jefferson's responses in The History of Virginia.

Letter text, 15 January 1815

Page 1

Th: Jefferson to mr Girardin

I have no document respecting Clarke's expedition except the letters of which you are in possession, one of which I believe gives some account of it; nor do I possess Imlay's history of Kentucky.

Of mr Wythe's early history I scarcely know any thing, except that he was self-taught; & perhaps this might not have been as to the Latin language. Dr Small was his bosom friend, and to me as a father. to his enlightened & affectionate guidance of my studies while at College I am indebted for every thing. he was professor of Mathematics at W. & M. & for some time was in the philosophical chair. he first introduced into both schools rational & elevated courses of study, and from an extraordinary conjunction of eloquence & logic was enabled to communicate them to the students with great effect. he procured for me the patronage of mr Wythe, & both of them, the attentions of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who ever filled the chair of government here. they were inseparable friends, and at their frequent dinners with the Governor (after his family had returned to England) he admitted me always to make ^it a partie quarreé [struck out]. at these dinners I have heard more good sense, more rational & philosophical conversations than in all my life besides. they were truly Attic societies. the Governor was musical also & a good performer and associated me with 2. or 3. other amateurs in his weekly concerts. he merits honorable mention in your history, if any proper occasion for it offers. so also does Dabney Carr, father of Peter Carr, mover of the proposition of Mar. 1773. for Commees of correspondence, the first fruit of which was the Call of an American Congress: I return your two pamphlets with thanks & salute you with esteem & respect
Monticello Jan. 15. 15.

See also


  1. "Th:J. will without delay look over Skelton's MS." Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 3 December 1814.