Thomas Mann Randolph to Peachy R. Gilmer

Dear Sir,

Your second favor of May 2d has just reached me. I received the first sometime in March and when I went next to Richmond communicated the contents to Mrs David Meade Randolph who as might be expected was greatly pleased and promised to have copies of the title papers ready against I came down again to be forwarded to you, with the hope that you would undertake her cause which her exertions have made her fully able to prosecute whatev[er] the expence may be. I have been down once since but was in Richmond a very short time my absence from home at that time having been only 4½ days alltogether and she was then on a visit to Mrs Williams Carter in Hanover. Immediately after our Court on Monday next I shall go down again and shall have the pleasure of writing to you from Richmond very fully on this subject so interesting to Mrs R. & her friends. She has allways declared that if any conveyance from herself could be shewn she would relinquish her dower right at once but she never has made any and does not remember ever having been asked to do it by her husband, who certainly sold the lands he bought of Colo Lomax only, and not those which were possessed by my father, in any part. And this declaration allthough honorable to her has in fact no meaning in law for all the lands possessed by my Father in Henry County were conveyed by him to her alone in her own right and must remain entire to her after her husbands death, the rents and profits being his only, while she lives, and an estate for his life only if he survive her, there being children. You have no doubt seen at once that it is not her object to impair any estate which he may have legally given but to separate what he could convey viz: the lands he bought of Lomax from what he could not convey viz. those given to her by her Father; and if possible, which you will determine for her, to recover for the use of herself & children the rents and profits of such if they have not been assigned by him to any other person. He is still in Europe, (if living), and not likely ever to return to America it is thought. He spent a large estate in supporting the dignity of the office of Marshal of Virginia and abandoned his family from the consciousness of inability to [. . .] maintain them, or in pursuit of schemes which he had not capacity or constancy to follow through. False shame overcame his affections and impelled him to leave helpless children to a weakly mother to support, rather than witness their poverty. It is much to be wished that true honour may bear strong in his breast and prevent him from coming back to enjoy her hard earned comforts and perhaps disconcert her sure allthough humble plans. This between us for whatever I may think I must maintain appearances with him. What do your good people of Henry think of our political situation. I hope none of them are tainted with the damnable heresy which has infected some of our great politicians this way, who contend that the nation is bound in honour to make war on France and England at the same time and to fight in a triangle as they term it, perhaps to throw ridicule on the noble purpose of government and to mask real wishes that the nation should submit entirely to Great Britain. It is true that we have been plundered on the ocean by France and have had some ships burned most villainously but we must confess that if those only had been destroyed which were sailing on English account under false papers it would have been entirely just, and that latterly they have done all they could to discriminate, discharging the genuine Americans, and have destroyed only where the cargoes of provisions must otherwise have fallen into the hands of their enemy immediately, for the support of armies actually in the field against them. But for the captives of Great Britain there is no apology as she cannot mistake us for French. Besides she has more than six thousand of our people in captivity now & continues to make prisoners of them and she has actually commenced a War upon Great Britains of the most dreadfull kind by sending her savage allies against our frontier settlements. She is we may say our natural enemy. all our strength has been drawn from her best blood, our commercial gains are so much loss to her merchants, our advancement in the usefull arts is the ruin of her most valuable establishments, our skill in navigation alarms her for her dominion over the sea and our republican institutions are as much objects of jealousy with her rulers as thos[e] of France. Better to make war upon her at once and avail ourselves of the French Fleet again to protect our Sea port towns and keep our harbours open. It is not reasonable to suppose if we declare War against both that either will stoop immediately to [. . .] beg peace and [have?] our alliance. We should rather fear an agreement between the belligerents to make war upon all America North & South & divide the conquest. Yet W. C. N. even is for this triangular War and the Enquirer allso with many others no doubt to your great astonishment. I trust however there is better sense in the majority and that in less than 30 days reprisals in Canada will be ordered by Congress

Remember me most earnestly to the ladies and believe me most sincerely & warmly your friend
Th: M. Randolph
RC (Vi: Personal Papers Collection, Thomas Mann Randolph Papers, Mss 18760); edge chipped; addressed: “Peachy R. Gilmer Esqr Atty at Law Henry County Virginia mail To Martins Ville”; stamped; postmarked Milton, 18 June 1812.
Peachy R. Gilmer
Date Range
May 30, 1812