JEFFERSON, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th:Jefferson") as President, to his daughter Mrs. Mary Jefferson Eppes (1778-1804), Washington, D.C., 29 January 1804. 1 full page, 4to, integral address leaf, slightly browned, minor fraying at edges. [With:] Autograph free frank ("free Th:Jefferson Pr. U.S."), on address panel in Jefferson's hand to 'Mrs. Eppes Edgehill near Milton," circular "Washn. City" postmark and "FREE" handstamp, small tear at edge.
ONE OF THE LAST LETTERS OF PRESIDENT JEFFERSON TO HIS YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, MARY
An affectionate, fatherly letter to the younger of Jefferson's two daughters. As a girl of nine, Mary had traveled to be with her father in France when he was posted there as minister, travelling in the care of the 14-year-old slave Sally Hemmings. In 1797, Mary had married a first cousin, John Wayles Eppes, a match which her father heartily approved, writing that Jack "could not have been more to my wishes if I had had the whole free earth to have chosen a partner for her." For the couple, he reopened a small plantation, Pantops, which he owned, although they chose to live at a greater distance, at Edgehill. At the time of this letter, Mary and John had a son Francis (born 1801) and were expecting another child. Jefferson writes: "My dearest Maria, This evening ought to have brought in the Western mail, but it is not arrived. Consequently we hear nothing from our neighborhood. I rejoice that this is the last time our Milton mail will be embarrassed with that from New Orleans; the rapidity of which occasioned our letters often to be left in the post-offices. It now returns to its former establishemnt of twice a week, so that we may hear oftener from you: and in communicating to us frequently by the state of things hope you will not be sparing, if it be only by saying 'all is well.'"
"I think Congress will rise the 2d. week in March, when we shall all join you. Perhaps Mr. Eppes may sooner. On this I presume he writes you. It would have been the most desirable of all things could we have got away by this time. However I hope you will let us all see that you have within yourself the resource of a courage not requiring the presence of any body.-- Since proposing to Anne [Anne Cary Randolph] the undertaking to raise Bantams I have received from Algiers two pair of beautiful fowls, somewhat larger than our common fowls, with fine aigrettes. They are not so large nor valuable as the East India fowl, but both kinds, as well as the Bantams are well worthy of being raised. We must therefore distribute them among us; and raise them clear of moisture of any kind. All this we will settle together in March, and soon after I hope we shall begin the levelling and establishment of your hen-house at Pant-ops. Give my tender love to your sister; to all the young ones kisses; to yourself everything affectionate..."
Mary gave birth to a daughter, Maria Jefferson Eppes, a few weeks after this letter, on 15 February 1804, but sadly, like her own mother, Martha, died of complications following childbirth at Monticello on 17 April 1804. The present constitutes one of Jefferson's last letters to his daughter (only two later letters are known). JEFFERSON'S LETTERS TO HIS DAUGHTERS ARE VERY RARELY OFFERED FOR SALE: most are held in permanent collections. No letter to Mary has been offered at auction in at least 25 years. Published in Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Edwin Morris Betts and James Adam Bear Jr., pp.255-256.