Extract of Martha Jefferson Randolph to Nicholas P. Trist

Dear Nicholas

… I mentioned to Jefferson your idea of removing the negroes to a country where they would be so much more profitable, he assented at once to the advantage of such a step, but said what I knew to be the fact that his Grandfather would never lissen listen to such a proposal it for a moment,1 although2 moving them in a body it would occasion little or no distress to them, not a tenth part which a sale under the usual circumstances would. then again the difficulty of getting a judicious and trust worthy agent which would render it a step of certain expense and uncertain advantage. but I am not without hope that with Jefferson’s mannagement and some arrangements which he proposes the estate may be saved without any, or but a trifling sacrifices, he has already arrested the progress of the debts, and the property is daily improving. Poplar forest which for years had been regularly fallg falling behind hand will this year contribute to the maintenance of the family; and in a few more will yield a considerable profit. and [. . .] under the worst circumstances, such as are not likely to concur, 100 negroes might be sold and still leave 150 and the land, from 8 to 10.000 acres; Ann is already provided for, and Jefferson in part, so that independant of their father’s property their Grand father’s will be divided amongst the children after the payment of the debts, independant of me. this last arrangement was made at my own request. I shall probably have a life estate in some part of it but I wished it so secured as to render them independant of any accident that might happen to us. Francis will rank as an elder son. Jefferson and himself will consequently have more than the other boys. for them those, I wish them to have proffessions that will enable them to make their own way in the world. Lewis is a boy of promising talents and if his father’s inveterate prejudice ags against the Law does not prevent him that would be the course his grandfather and myself would wish him to pursue, as the most honorable as well as the most certain road to preferment. the others may also make their way as well as thousands of others have done before them if they have industry.

RC (NcU: NPT); extract, consisting of salutation, dateline, and middle portion of letter, which is signed “MR”; dateline adjacent to first postscript; addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Donaldsonville Lafourche Louisiana”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 10 Mar.; endorsed by Trist. In the unextracted portion of this letter, Randolph acknowledges her delay in answering Trist’s previous letter; explains that she only knows of her daughter Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)’s doings in Richmond by correspondence, as she could not visit Richmond herself as planned; discusses Trist’s business plans in Louisiana and assures him of her and her husband’s support, but doubts that Trist will be able to return to Monticello by the spring of 1823; reports that due to neighborhood gossip, Virginia “found her secret known where ever the family was”; shares news of family friends and of her daughters in Richmond; describes her health and warns Trist to protect his own; sends greetings to his family; relays the greeting of her daughter Mary J. Randolph in a postscript; and in a second postscript reports on the student riot at South Carolina College, noting John Wayles Baker took part and received a three months’ suspension.

jefferson: Thomas Jefferson Randolph. ann: Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead. francis: Francis Eppes. lewis: Meriwether Lewis Randolph.

1Preceding four words reworked from “such a proposal.”
2Manuscript: “athough.”