1 page, 4to, light damp staining, closed tears at folds." />
6 December 2013
JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson"), to Messrs. Parsons & Cooley, Monticello, 14 February 1823. 1 page, 4to, light damp staining, closed tears at folds.
"I HAVE NEVER PUBLISHED ANY WORK BUT THE NOTES ON VIRGINIA"
A remarkable letter in which Jefferson mentions his famous book and his authorship of the plan for the University of Virginia. Parsons and Cooley wrote Jefferson asking him for "a copy of my works to be deposited" in their library. He explains "I have never published any work but the Notes on Virginia, of which I have but a single copy, and they are now very rarely to be found." All his other writing "have been of an official character, and are only to be found among the public documents of the times in which I have lived." He is loath to disappoint them, however, and as a show of "respect for the request you have been pleased to make," he sends a document "which was so little altered by the body for whom it was prepared, that I may truly call it a work of mine. This is a Report on the Plan of an University in Virginia, which is now nearly compleated, and in the course of a year or two will commence its operations."
Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia--his response to the 22 queries put to him by Francois Barbé Marbois about the natural, social and political characteristics of his homeland--remains one of the classics of American political literature, and one of the greatest expressions of Jefferson's highly charged feelings on the subject of American slavery. As an alternative to donating his only copy, it is not surprising that he offers his Plan for the University of Virginia. His role in the founding of that institution ranked only behind his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and drafting the Virginia statute on religious freedom as his proudest achievement. Jefferson also makes a revealing comment about his pride of authorship when he mentions the Plan "was so little altered by the body for whom it was prepared..." As a legislator, his public writings were often subjected to drastic revision by fellow politicians. Never more so than with the Declaration of Independence, which the Continental Congress greatly truncated to his everlasting frustration.
LETTERS OF JEFFERSON DISCUSSING THIS CLASSIC BOOK ARE RARE. Only two others have appeared at auction in the last 40 years.
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