PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A dealer of rare historic documents is selling a letter that provides a poignant insight into the family side of a Founding Father. The July 24, 1805, letter from President Thomas Jefferson to his friend and estate manager discusses the 62-year-old president’s desire to have his Poplar Forest plantation in Bedford County appraised so he could begin parceling off portions of the property to his grandchildren. The letter references Jefferson’s plan to build his retreat home, which he designed, on the property. Jefferson began construction on the octagonal house in 1806, according to the website for Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, which now manages the historic landmark. The Raab Collection in Philadelphia has set the price at $35,000 for the one-page handwritten letter, which belonged to an anonymous collector and has never been available to scholars or the public. Raab Collection president Nathan Raab said the letter shows that even while serving as president, Jefferson’s mind was occupied with family and the legacy he would be leaving his grandchildren.
(Continue reading for the full letter transcription.)
Below is a transcription of the letter; it has not been edited for spelling, capitalization or other matters:
Poplar Forest July 24.05
I had intended to have asked the favor of seeing you here on my present visit, but the account I received of your health was such that I could not ask or expect it. I defer that satisfaction therefore to this time twelve month when the building of a house here, which we begin this fall, will call me here, & I shall hope your health will be re-established. The time is now approaching when I shall wish to be parcelling off some of my lands here to my grandchildren. This renders it necefsary I should understand the separate value of each position of them distinctly, as no person is so well acquainted with them as yourself I must ask the favor of you to conside the questions on the paper inclosed, and to write at the end of each the answer in figures, and to send me the same paper to Monticello, by the first post. having asked the same favor of some others, as soon as I recieve your answer I shall be able to conclude finally in one case which presses. I by no means mean to give you the trouble of re-inspecting the lands; you know them so well that your answer given on recollection of them & reflection, will perfectly answer my purpose. it is of no consequence that the valuation be at what they might sell for at market: provided all are valued on the same scale, so as to know their comparative worth, it will be sufficient. Wishing you a speedy reestablishment of health, I offer my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem.