José Corrêa da Serra to Thomas Mann Randolph


Your Letter of the 14th Last came to my hands in due time, and would have been immediately answered, was it not for the many Letters for Portugal and the Brazils, which admitted no delay, the ships which are the only mails for those countries being on the eve of departure.

I thank you exceedingly for the details you give me of the Late sickness and actual state of health of Mr Jefferson. It was natural for me to feel much uneasiness in hearing the reports that circulated, which received still the party colour on both sides, and were for that same reason alarming from both sides. As for me who besides the personal attachment, Look on him as posterity will do, as a man whose ideas have given a particular direction to the future history of this country, and by that means to that of mankind, i saw his threatened departure from amongst us, in the time that he was engrafting science on Virginia as a deplorable event. The institution he is about to settle is in my eyes of more consequence than perhaps he is aware of. Besides the influence of Light and taste in the future Virginians, the emulation will do wonders in the other states, as i am perfectly convinced by my own observation, and it is not indifferent for the world what is the degree of mental improvement of a nation that is destined to act such a part in the world as yours. May he complete his work.

You do not tell me to whom i was to give the Marons i destined for you, but Luckily Mr Todd came here, and i sent them to Mr Madison praying him to divide them with you. Do not forget soaking them, before committing them to the ground.

The plant you1 describe to me, that you found creeping in deserted walls and in the islands near Richmond bridge, is not the Momordica operculata which i never met in America, but the Sycios angulata which i have met every where in spots like those in which you found it, and answers perfectly well; those that appeared seeds in clusters with seto spinoso are not seeds but Pepones monospermi.

I am sure our friend Gilmer has spoken to you of an herborisation which i intended to make in the Dismal swamp and around Norfolk in the first days of May, to which he has volunteered himself, and in which i would be exceedingly happy you would join us. You will see if you come more curious plants in a week, than in as many months among the vegetals of the Northern Flora to which you are accustomed. Pray do it if you can. The 4 of May i shall be in Norfolk.

Present my respects and congratulations to Mr Jefferson, to your Lady and accept the assurance of the high esteem and friendship wit[h] which i am

Your most attached friend and servt
Joseph Corrèa de Serra
RC (DLC: TJ Papers, ser. 6); edge trimmed; addressed: “Col. T. M. Randolph Monticello Albemarle Cty Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Washington, D.C., 2 Mar.; endorsed by Randolph: “Corrêa Da Serra March. 1819.”
1Manuscript: “yo.”
José Corrêa da Serra
Date Range
March 1, 1819