Cornelia J. Randolph to Elizabeth Rivinus


My dear Lizzie, Miss Rivinus

The three accompanying letters of my Grandfather, sent, in compliance with your request for autographs for exhibition at the Fair, are the only ones in my possession here; all my other memorials of him are in Virginia, “beyond the Union lines”—soon, I trust, to be within them without moving from where they are.

From these three, a perfectly correct idea may be formed1, so far as they go, and indeed in all respects, of what he was towards us, his grandchildren—towards all twelve of us; counting in as one of the twelve our cousin Francis Eppes, the my aunt Maria’s often orphan boy who was often of the family.—Just as you see my Grandfather here, he was always, in all things & at all times, with never a shade or shadow of change or variation, and without any one of us ever feeling that there was any difference in what he was for one from what he was for all & each of the rest, save only the one difference involved in his bringing himself down to the level, (we were never conscious, until after reaching the years of reflection, that there was any coming down on his part—so naturally did it all come from him) as regards age & capacity & tastes, of the one he was making himself a companion for at the moment.

There is one of his letters which I particularly regret not having here now. In closing one of mine to him, I had expressed the hope that it would be answered by return post! The way in which this childish eagerness & inconsiderateness was met—it was so like him! The hoped for reply promptly came, dissecting my letter and answering it in all formality, just as a letter of the highest importance on subjects of extreme urgency would have been answered. Its effect upon me comes over me now in all vividness. The absurd unreasonableness of my expectation stared me in the face in a light so ludicrous as made me laugh & cry in the same breath; and my vexation at myself was not a little aggravated by the merriment of the other children at “the grande dame” who expected her letters to be answered “by return post.”

Your father thinks that the sale of printed copies of these letters would contribute to the profits of the Fair.—It would give me a lively pleasure to promote in this way, or any other in my power, the noble object for which it has been gotten up, and in which no one can feel a warmer interest.—Should they be printed, I would propose the following title, which has been suggested to me & strikes me as an appropriate one. I will write it below.

I am, my dear Lizzie, Miss R, with affte regard Yours truly
C. J. Randolph

Thomas Jefferson as Gran’papa.

A small sample of his Character & Life, in this one of its manifold Relations.

Being three Letters written by him, while President of the United States, to his Grand-daughter Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, then in her ninth year.

Tr (DLC: Randolph Family Miscellany); addressed: “Miss Lizzie Rivinus.”
1Manuscript: “fromed.”
Calzado Nike
Cornelia Jefferson Randolph
Elizabeth Rivinus
Date Range
June 7, 1864