Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN NICHOLAS - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
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TO JOHN NICHOLAS - 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 JOHN NICHOLAS
Monticello, November 10, 1819
—Your letter, and the draught of a memorial proposed to be presented to the Legislature, are duly received. With respect to impressions from any differences of political opinion, whether major or minor, alluded to in your letter, I have none. I left them all behind me on quitting Washington, where alone the state of things had, till then, required some attention to them. Nor was that the lightest part of the load I was there disburthened of; and could I permit myself to believe that with the change of circumstances a corresponding change had taken place in the minds of those who differed from me, and that I now stand in the peace and good will of my fellow-citizens generally, it would indeed be a sweetening ingredient in the last dregs of my life. It is not then from that source that my testimony may be scanty, but from a decaying memory, illy retaining things of recent transaction, and scarcely with any distinctness those of forty years back, the period to which your memorial refers: general impressions of them remain, but details are mostly obliterated.
Of the transfer of your corps from the general to the State line, and the other facts in the memorial preceding my entrance on the administration of the State government, June 2, 1779, I, of course, have no knowledge; but public documents, as well as living witnesses, will probably supply this. In 1780, I remember your appointment to a command in the militia sent under General Stevens to the aid of the Carolinas, of which fact the commission signed by myself is sufficient proof. But I have no particular recollections which respect yourself personally in that service. Of what took place during Arnold’s invasion in the subsequent winter I have more knowledge, because so much passed under my own eye, and I have the benefit of some notes to aid my memory. In the short interval of fifty-seven hours between our knowing they had entered James river and their actual debarkation at Westover, we could get together but a small body of militia, (my notes say of three hundred men only,) chiefly from the city and its immediate vicinities. You were placed in the command of these, and ordered to proceed to the neighborhood of the enemy, not with any view to face them directly with so small a force, but to hang on their skirts, and to check their march as much as could be done, to give time for the more distant militia to assemble. The enemy were not to be delayed, however, and were in Richmond in twenty-four hours from their being formed on shore at Westover. The day before their arrival at Richmond, I had sent my family to Tuckahoe, as the memorial states, at which place I joined them about 1 o’clock of that night, having attended late at Westham, to have the public stores and papers thrown across the river. You came up to us at Tuckahoe the next morning, and accompanied me, I think, to Britton’s opposite Westham, to see about the further safety of the arms and other property. Whether you stayed there to look after them, or went with me to the heights of Manchester, and returned thence to Britton’s, I do not recollect. The enemy evacuated Richmond at noon on the 5th of January, having remained there but twenty-three hours. I returned to it in the morning of the 8th, they being still encamped at Westover and Berkley, and yourself and corps at the Forest. They reembarked at 1 o’clock of the 10th. The particulars of your movements down the river, to oppose their re-landing at different points, I do not specifically recollect, but, as stated in the memorial, they are so much in agreement with my general impressions, that I have no doubt of their correctness, and I know that your conduct from the first advance of the enemy to his departure, was approved by myself and by others generally. The rendezvous of the militia at the Tuckahoe bridge, and your having the command of them, I think I also remember, but nothing of their subsequent movements. The legislature had adjourned to meet at Charlottesville, where, at the expiration of my second year, I declined a re-election in the belief that a military man would be more likely to render services adequate to the exigencies of the times. Of the subsequent facts, therefore, stated in the memorial, I have no knowledge.
This, Sir, is the sum of the information I am able to give on the subjects of your memorial, and if it may contribute to the purposes of justice in your case, I shall be happy that in bearing testimony to the truth, I shall have rendered you a just service. I return the memorial and commission, as requested, and pray you to accept my respectful salutations.