Martha Jefferson Randolph to Benjamin F. Randolph

I have no doubt dear Benjamen but that you have made the best possible arrangements in hiring our servants. I have two objects particularly in view paramount to every other, to ensure their being kindly treated and in families where they would be in the least danger from local situation of being corrupted; for that reason I look upon the neighbourhood of a village and the university as bad. probably you will laugh at my scruples and think I have forgotten strangely the [circumstance?] existing state of things, but I have not, it is exactly because I remember too well the laxity of principle so prevalent upon that subject, that I feel anxious that these poor uneducated creatures should be placed in situations as little exposed to temptation as possible. I have always felt an awful responsibility upon their account, and regret to think how illy I have discharged my duties towards them. you are right in suposing the interrests of My children the first and dearest object in life, and I would lay down my own life with joy to ensure prosperity and happiness to them, but I have no right to sacrifice the happiness of a fellow creature black or white, for that makes no difference in religion, or what is a part of it sound morality. but I should not consider giving Martha Ann to Lewis as even endangering her happiness, to the contrary Elisabeth is a sweet amiable girl and very pious, and Lewis himself is one of the kindest best, of the human family. separating her from her family is an evil, yet it is one that we are all exposed to in this life. I have no hesitation therefore in making him the gift and thank you dear Benjamen for the suggestion, and as Lewis will return again to the States next year she will probably soon see her friends again, will have a kind and excellent master & Mistress and a delightful climate: but I wish her to be informed of it, that it may not fall like a clap of thunder upon her at the moment of separation, and beg you dear son to see to it, and to write to Lewis if you know where he is. Lavinia’s hire will be most acceptable to Mary, for My expenses last year were greatly beyond My income, and we shall be en extremely straightened for the whole of the present year, and perhaps a part of the next, therefore the 15 dollars [. . .] are as great a blessing to us, as a mouse was to the old woman’s cat in Pilpay. it will come very safe in a letter, & united states bank notes pass every where without discount.

The religious sentiments expressed in your letter dear Benjamen gave me more comfort than I can well make you understand. I have severely and bitterly reproached My self for My negligence of that part of your education. I was My self most religiously brought up, but I married too young, and the opinions of My friends were not mine; that I should have had those impressions weakened so as to unsettle My opinions beliefs, and in that state that I should not have dared to instill [. . .] what I was my self in doubt of, seems to have been the natural consequence. if I had never had a doubt excited, I should probably have died in the faith of my childhood; having had that faith shaken and one more conformable to human reason presented, my mind naturally perhaps adopted that. I believe my self a christian in the sense that our saviour inculcated. God knows how anxious I am for the truth, and how humbly sincere in my belief. if I have erred, it is an error of judgement not of the heart, and such I must believe will be pardoned by a just and merciful God. I reproach my self also in giving way to your father in not having my boys christened. none except George, whom, being older My self, and more determined in character, I carried my point and had him, as the girls had been before. I shall never cease to regret that I had not been equally determined with Jefferson James Lewis & yourself. God bless you My beloved Son, I do pray for you night & morning; my dear children are the constant [objects?] subjects of my first & t last thoughts & most earnest prayers. that I may present my flock entire without the absence of one, is the anxious and daily prayer of your ever affectionate

Mother MRandolph

Give My love to dear Sally and tell her her postscript deserves a letter to it self remember me also to Mrs Carter to Ellen & John your sisters are [out?] or I know I should have love from them also to send you. Tim writes [in] good spirits

RC (ViU: Samuel Smith Papers); stained; dateline beneath postscript, with year editorially supplied based on internal evidence; addressed: “Dr Benjamen F Randolph Red Lands Charlottesville Post Office Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 27 Jan.
Benjamin F. Randolph
Date Range
January 27, 1836