Extract from James Fenimore Cooper to [Charles Kitchel Gardner?]

While we were at the Point it rained much of the time ... Two or three of the intelligent men that I found here spoke so confidently of the merits of a picture that they had, of Jefferson, by Sully, that I thought I would relieve both M[athews] and myself by a visit to the library. You know my antipathies, as you please to call them, to Mr. Jefferson. I was brought up in that school where his image seldom appeared, unless it was clad in red breeches, and where it was always associated with the idea of infidelity and political heresy ... you will smile when I tell you its effects on myself. There was a dignity, a repose, I will go further, and say a loveliness, about this painting, that I never have seen in any other portrait ... In short I saw nothing but Jefferson, standing before me, not in red breeches and slovenly attire, but a gentleman, appearing in all republican simplicity, with a grace and ease on the canvas.

Published in James Franklin Beard, ed., The Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1960-1968), 1:95-96.
James Fenimore Cooper
Charles Kitchel Gardner
Date Range
April 24, 1823 to June 17, 1823
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson