Jefferson-Tyler Correspondence

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Letter from Governor John Tyler to Thomas Jefferson

Richmond, Nov. 12th, 1810

Dear Sir: Perhaps Mr. Ritchie, before this time, has informed you of his having possession of Mr. Wythe's manuscript lectures delivered at William and Mary College while he was professor of law and politics at that place. They are highly worthy of publication, and but for the delicacy of sentiment and the remarkably modest and unassuming character of that valuable and virtuous citizen, they would have made their way in the world before this. It is a pity they should be lost to society, and such a monument of his memory be neglected. As you are entitled to it by his will (I am informed), as composing a part of his library, could you not find leisure time enough to examine it and supply some omissions which now and then are met with, I suppose from accident, or from not having time to correct and improve the whole as he intended?

Judge Roane has read them, or most of them, and is highly pleased with them, thinks they will be very valuable, there being so much of his own sound reasoning upon great principles, and not a mere servile copy of Blackstone and other British commentators,--a good many of his own thoughts on our constitutions and the necessary changes they have begotten, with that spirit of freedom which always marked his opinions.

I have not had an opportunity of reading them, which I would have done with great delight, but these remarks are made from Judge Roane's account of them to me, who seemed to think, as I do, that you alone should have the sole dominion over them, and should send them to posterity under your patronage.

It will afford a lasting evidence to the world, among much other, of your remembrance of the man who was always dear to you and his country. I do not see why an American Aristides should not be known to future ages. Had he been a vain egoist his sentiments would have been often seen on paper; and perhaps he erred in this respect, as the good and great should always leave their precepts and opinions for the benefit of mankind.

Mr. Wm. Crane gave it to Mr. Ritchie, who I suppose got it from Mr. Duval, who always had access to Mr. Wtyhe's library, and was much in his confidence.

I hope you are quite as happy as mortality is susceptible of, though not quite dissolved; and that you may remain so for many years, is the sincere wish of your most obedient humble servant.

Jno. Tyler[1]


  1. Lyon G. Tyler, The Letters and Times of the Tylers, (Richmond, Va.: Whittet & Shepperson, 1884), 249-250.