Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO WILLIAM WIRT 1 - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
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TO WILLIAM WIRT 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 12.
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TO WILLIAM WIRT1
Monticello, September 4, 1816
—I have read, with great delight, the portion of the history of Mr. Henry which you have been so kind as to favour me with, and which is now returned. And I can say, from my own knowledge of the contemporary characters introduced into the canvas, that you have given them quite as much lustre as themselves would have asked. The exactness, too, of your details has, in several instances, corrected their errors in my own recollections, where they had begun to falter.
In result, I scarcely find anything needing revisal; yet, to show you that I have scrupulously sought occasions of animadversion, I will particularize the following passages, which I noted as I read them.
Page 11: I think this passage had better be moderated. That Mr. Henry read Livy through once a year is a known impossibility with those who knew him. He may have read him once, and some general history of Greece; but certainly not twice. A first reading of a book he could accomplish sometimes and on some subjects, but never a second. He knew well the geography of his own country, but certainly never made any other a study. So, as to our ancient charters; he had probably read those in Stith’s history; but no man ever more undervalued chartered titles than himself. He drew all natural rights from a purer source—the feelings of his own breast.
He never, in conversation or debate, mentioned a hero, a worthy, or a fact in Greek or Roman history, but so vaguely and loosely as to leave room to back out, if he found he had blundered.
The study and learning ascribed to him, in this passage, would be inconsistent with the excellent and just picture given of his indolence through the rest of the work.
Page 33, line 4: Inquire further into the fact alleged that Henry was counsel for Littlepage. I am much persuaded he was counsel for Dandridge. There was great personal antipathy between him and Littlepage, and the closest intimacy with Dandridge, who was his near neighbor, in whose house he was at home as one of the family, who was his earliest and greatest admirer and patron, and whose daughter became, afterwards, his second wife.
It was in his house that, during a course of Christmas festivities, I first became acquainted with Mr. Henry. This, it is true, is but presumptive evidence, and may be overruled by direct proof. But I am confident he could never have undertaken any case against Dandridge; considering the union of their bosoms, it would have been a great crime.1
[1 ]From Kennedy’s Memoirs of W. Wirt, i., 362.
[1 ]Jefferson further wrote to Wirt concerning his Life of Patrick Henry:
Poplar Forest, November 12, 1816
—I received your 3d parcel of sheets just as I was leaving Poplar Forest, and have read them with the usual pleasure. They relate however to the period of time exactly, during which I was absent in Europe. Consequently I am without knolege of the facts they state. Indeed they are mostly new history to me.
On the subject of style they are not liable to the doubts I hazarded on the 1st parcel, unless a short passage in page 198, should be thought too poetical. Indeed as I read the 2d & 3d parcels with attentions to style and found them not subject to the observations I made on the first, (which were from memory only, & after I had parted with them) I have suspected that a revisal might have corrected my opinion on the 1st. Of this however you will judge. One only fact in the last sheets was within my knolege, that relating to Philips, and on this I had formerly given you explanations. I am very glad indeed that you have examined the records, and established truth in this case. How Mr. Randolph could indulge himself in a statement of facts, so solemnly made, the falsehood of every article of which had been known to himself particularly; and how Mr. Henry could be silent under such a perversion of facts known to himself, agreed on at a consultation with members whom he invited to the palace to advise with on the occasion, and done at his request according to what was concluded, is perfectly unaccountable. Not that I consider Mr. Randolph as misstating intentionally, or desiring to boulster an argument at the expence of an absent person: for there were no unsocial dispositions between him & myself; and as little do I impute to Mr. Henry any willingness to leave on my shoulders a charge which he could so easily have disproved. The fact must have been that they were both out of their heads on that occasion. Still not the less injuriously to me, whom Mr. Randolph might as well have named, as the journals shewed I was the first named of the Committee. Would it be out of place for you to refer by a note to the countenance which Judge Tucker has given to this misrepresentation, by making strictures on it, in his Blackstone, as if it were true? It is such a calumny on our revolutionary government as should be eradicated from history, and especially from that of this state, which justly prides itself on having gone thro’ the revolution without a single example of capital punishment connected with that. Ever affectionately yours.