Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

I am ashamed to have kept your letter 3 weeks unanswered dearest Ellen but it requires some time for me to get settled and to learn to do any thing in a family of such unweildy dimensions and where 6 of them are small enough with Jane’s management or rather want of management to cry & make a noise. they are children of the best natural dispositions I ever saw in my life or the house would be a perfect bedlam, but the elder girls are sweet amiable useful girls who take much of the trouble of the little ones off of their mother’s hands and the younger children are friendly & good tempered [. . .] with one another so that Carry excepted there is very little crying and no quarreling. I have resumed My music lessons with Jane’s four elder girls & two of my old scholars not for profit this time but to repay the trouble my the addition of my large family gives, by rendering my self useful in the only way in which I can be and also from a the interest I take in the family. the two others I teach for “auld Lang syne” and that they are good affectionate girls. I have not heard from George yet but Mr Hodgson said he would make him write from Gibraltar, he received your letter only the day before he sailed but in his last letter by the Pilot he said he would answer it very soon. I am truly grateful to the President for his immediate attention to our wishes and above all for his berth in the John Adams whose cruise will be one of so much interest & to a healthy Station. there were so many applications for that station that nothing but a determination to befriend the family could have [. . .] obtained it. Mr Poindexter has been in the neighbourhood & he told Jefferson that they would try to get a township 50,000 acres of land and also to get the location turned over to the President who being well acquainted with that country by locating the grant in not all in one body but in different tracts it might be chosen all good and would be much easier to sell, and would sell to greater advantage. if we succeed my plan is to divide it in 12 shares retaining 2 for My self and one a piece to each of My children receiving Monticello in lieu of Jefferson’s if it is less than $10,000 which he asks, [. . .] bonding my self to give it up to any purchaser who will give him his price, retaining from the purchase money the advance I had paid. spending the [. . .] summer then there and keeping house with V. in the winter. as long as the union of the two families is advantage to them. when ever that ceases I will if I can afford it rent a casita in Washington, where I should prefer to spend the winter, as Monticello is a very expensive & comfortless winter residence. in talking over these plans with Jefferson he expressed a wish to see us living at Monticello in case of the addition talked of. advises improving the Mountain which is all that remains, turning it into a grazing farm, & [. . .] growing no more [. . .] grain & & than would be necessary for the maintenance of the farm which he would superintend. but all these are bright visions like any other waking dreams. the only feature that I can not relinquish is the power of assisting My dear children and that, even if I get the land, will depend upon the good fortune with which each individual may dispose of their stake share, which I should propose to have numbered & drawn (by lot). Mr Poindexter seemed very sanguine and I think as far as I can learn a friendly disposition towards the family seems to prevail in the house Congress. George seemed pleased with his prospects talks jestingly of taking your Tom & Jeff under his patronage as midshipmen thirteen or1 fourteen years hence. I dare say our Navy will be a desirable situation and a certain provision for a great many of our young men. with George I am sure it is the best thing that could have been done for him the only danger John Nicholas wrote to Sarah was of his being spoiled by too much attention. being the youngest he was becoming very much of a pet with the officers. the Captain is a perfect gentleman & a very good man but a strict disciplinarian: the first lieutenant the only one of the Officers that did not bear a good character has been exchanged for Lieutenant Carpenter a fine officer & an Acquaintance of ours so that I have hardly a wish to form for him. in his mess he has been placed under the immediate protection of Young Ingersol a youth of about 20 and said to be one of the most amiable young men in the service so devotedly attached to John Nicholas that he has gone out of turn to be with him. Jefferson thinks it will be a great advantage to him also, poor fellow, after the recent loss of his wife & child whose death he did not know till he returned, to have something to attend to & attach himself to

I went to the University last wednesday to dine and was never in my life more surprised than in the improvement which has taken place in the appearan[ce] of the country. in stead of the brown, ragged, stumpy fields, that you knew the country face of the earth is covering it self generally with grass, handsome brick houses, & neat enclosures springing up every where and an appearance of activit[y] and business so pleasing it is certainly a beautiful, beautiful, cou[ntry.] the people who stay in the house at Monticello keep it clean and [. . .] aired but the grounds are shockingly out of order and the shrubs [. . .] and flowers very much pillaged. adieu dear daughter excuse this scrawl written under the discomfort of a stiff neck and bad cold. give My love to Joseph & the dear little ones. I saw Mrs Coolidge for a very short time that she came to see me, they were engaged the rest of the day & the day after they went to Mrs Fitzhughs. the following day we both left Washington. Susan did not come on beyond Philadelphia. remember me most affectionately to Aunt Storer and the other ladies of the family pray say some thing for me also to Mrs Otis & Mrs Ritchie Mrs Pratt Mrs George Lyman & particularly to the Misses Ross whose faithful and trust worthy pins did me good service in protecting the picture remember me to good Mrs Cox & say something kind to any of your people that I knew. I met with such chearful attention to My little wants whilst among them that I shall allways retain feelings of kindness to them all God bless you My best love beleive me ever & unalterably your affectionate Mother

M Randolph
RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); dateline at foot of text; torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs J. Coolidge Junr to the care of J. Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Everettsville, 24 June; endorsed by Coolidge: “1831”; with notes by Coolidge: “George University of Va. Congress.”
1Manuscript: “of.”
Date Range
June 21, 1831