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TO ROGER O. WEIGHTMAN - 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 ROGER O. WEIGHTMAN
Monticello, June 24, 1826
—The kind invitation I receive from you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration on the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. But acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to control. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the city of Washington and its vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. With my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments.
I, Thomas Jefferson, of Monticello, in Albemarle, being of sound mind and in my ordinary state of health, make my last will and testament in manner and form as follows:
I give to my grandson Francis Eppes, son of my dear deceased daughter Mary Eppes, in fee simple, all that part of my lands at Poplar Forest lying west of the following lines, to wit: beginning at Radford’s upper corner, near the double branches of Bear Creek and the public road, and running thence in a straight line to the fork of my private road, near the barn; thence along that private road, (as it was changed in 1817,) to its crossing of the main branch of North Tomahawk Creek; and from that crossing, in a direct line over the main ridge which divides the North and South Tomahawk, to the South Tomahawk, at the confluence of two branches where the old road to the Waterlick crossed it, and from that confluence up the northermost branch, (which separate M’Daniels’ and Perry’s fields,) to its source; and thence by the shortest line to my western boundary. And having, in a former correspondence with my deceased son-in-law John W. Eppes, contemplated laying off for him, with remainder to my grandson Francis, a certain portion in the southern part of my lands in Bedford and Campbell, which I afterwards found to be generally more indifferent than I had supposed, and therefore determined to change its location for the better; now to remove all doubt, if any could arise on a purpose merely voluntary and unexecuted, I hereby declare that what I have herein given to my said grandson Francis, is instead of, and not additional to, what I had formerly contemplated. I subject all my other property to the payment of my debts in the first place. Considering the insolvent state of the affairs of my friend and son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph, and that what will remain of my property will be the only resource against the want in which his family would otherwise be left, it must be his wish, as it is my duty, to guard that resource against all liability for his debts, engagements or purposes whatsoever, and to preclude the rights, powers, and authorities over it, which might result to him by operation of law, and which might, independently of his will, bring it within the power of his creditors, I do hereby devise and bequeath all the residue of my property, real and personal, in possession or in action, whether held in my own right, or in that of my dear deceased wife, according to the powers vested in me by deed of settlement for that purpose, to my grandson Thomas J. Randolph, and my friends Nicholas P. Trist and Alexander Garrett, and their heirs, during the life of my said son-in-law Thomas M. Randolph, to be held and administered by them, in trust, for the sole and separate use and behoof of my dear daughter Martha Randolph, and her heirs; and aware of the nice and difficult distinction of the law in these cases, I will further explain by saying, that I understand and intend the effect of these limitations to be, that the legal estate and actual occupation shall be vested in my said trustees, and held by them in base fee, determinable on the death of my said son-in-law, and the remainder during the same time be vested in my said daughter and her heirs, and of course disposable by her last will, and that at the death of my said son-in-law, the particular estate of the trustees shall be determined, and the remainder, in legal estate, possession, and use, become vested in my said daughter and her heirs, in absolute property forever. In consequence of the variety and indescribableness of the articles of property within the house at Monticello, and the difficulty of inventorying and appraising them separately and specifically, and its inutility, I dispense with having them inventoried and appraised; and it is my will that my executors be not held to give any security for the administration of my estate. I appoint my grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph, my sole executor during his life, and after his death, I constitute executors my friends Nicholas P. Trist and Alexander Garrett, joining to them my daughter Martha Randolph, after the death of my said son-in-law Thomas M. Randolph. Lastly, I revoke all former wills by me heretofore made; and in witness that this is my will, I have written the whole with my own hand on two pages, and have subscribed my name to each of them this sixteenth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six.
I, Thomas Jefferson, of Monticello, in Albemarle, make and add the following codicil to my will, controlling the same so far as its provisions go:
I recommend to my daughter Martha Randolph, the maintenance and care of my well beloved sister Anne Scott, and trust confidently that from affection to her, as well as for my sake, she will never let her want a comfort. I have made no specific provision for the comfortable maintenance of my son-in-law Thomas M. Randolph, because of the difficulty and uncertainty of devising terms which shall vest any beneficial interest in him, which the law will not transfer to the benefit of his creditors, to the destitution of my daughter and her family, and disablement of her to supply him: whereas, property placed under the exclusive control of my daughter and her independent will, as if she were a feme sole, considering the relation in which she stands both to him and his children, will be a certain resource against want for all.
I give to my friend James Madison, of Montpellier, my gold-mounted walking staff of animal horn, as a token of the cordial and affectionate friendship which for nearly now an half century, has united us in the same principles and pursuits of what we have deemed for the greatest good of our country.
I give to the University of Virginia my library, except such particular books only, and of the same edition, as it may already possess, when this legacy shall take effect: the rest of my said library, remaining after those given to the University shall have been taken out, I give to my two grandsons-in-law Nicholas P. Trist and Joseph Coolidge. To my grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph, I give my silver watch in preference of the golden one, because of its superior excellence. My papers of business going of course to him, as my executor, all others of a literary or other character I give to him as of his own property.
I give a gold watch to each of my grandchildren, who shall not have already received one from me, to be purchased and delivered by my executors to my grandsons, at the age of twenty-one, and granddaughters at that of sixteen.
I give to my good, affectionate, and faithful servant Burwell, his freedom, and the sum of three hundred dollars, to buy necessaries to commence his trade of glazier, or to use otherwise, as he pleases.
I give also to my good servants John Hemings and Joe Fosset, their freedom at the end of one year after my death; and to each of them respectively, all the tools of their respective shops or callings; and it is my will that a comfortable log-house be built for each of the three servants so emancipated, on some part of my lands convenient to them with respect to the residence of their wives, and to Charlottesville and the University, where they will be mostly employed, and reasonably convenient also to the interests of the proprietor of the lands, of which houses I give the use of one, with a curtilage of an acre to each, during his life or personal occupation thereof.
I give also to John Hemings the service of his two apprentices Madison and Eston Hemings, until their respective ages of twenty-one years, at which period respectively, I give them their freedom; and I humbly and earnestly request of the legislature of Virginia a confirmation of the bequest of freedom to these servants, with permission to remain in this State, where their families and connections are, as an additional instance of the favor, of which I have received so many other manifestations in the course of my life, and for which I now give them my last, solemn, and dutiful thanks.
In testimony that this is a codicil to my will of yesterday’s date, and that it is to modify so far the provisions of that will, I have written it all with my own hand in two pages, to each of which I subscribe my name, this seventeenth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six.
JEFFERSON’S INSCRIPTION FOR HIS TOMBSTONE
[1 ]Jefferson further wrote to Wells:
Monticello, June 23. 19
—Your favor of the 2d inst. has been duly received, & I answer your request to make use of the information given in mine of May 12 by a free permission, to employ it for any purpose you may think useful. You suppose that the fact that six colonies were not yet matured for a separation from the parent stock could not have been known unless a vote had been taken. Yet nothing easier. For the opinion of every individual was known to every one who had anxiety enough on the subject to scrutinize and calculate. There was neither concealment nor reserve on the subject on either side; and how the vote of each colony would be, if then pushed to a vote was exactly ascertainable. Nor does the appointment of a Committee to prepare an instrument of confederation offer ground of doubt, for that was but a proposition to save time provisionally, and subject to the ultimate negative of the minority. It was moreover a necessary measure in the opinion of all whether permanent, or limited to the duration of the controversy. I certainly will not, on the authority of memory alone affirm facts in opposition to Mr. Galloway, Judge McKean, or any one else. But what I wrote on the paper from which I sent extracts to you, was written on the spot, in the moment, and is true; and all that remains is to reconcile to that the contradictions of others by enquiring whether they may not have confounded different subjects, or whether after such a lapse of time their memory has not been more liable to err than the litera scripta. Galloway can be no better authority than the common herd of passengers in the streets. He knew nothing but the rumors of hearsay; for he had quitted us long before. And Mr. McKean was very old, and his memory much decayed when he gave his statement.
The painting lately executed by Colo. Trumbull, I have never seen, but as far back as the days of Horace at least we are told that pictoribus atque poetis; Quidlibet audendi semper fuit aequa potestas. He has exercised this licentia pictoris in like manner in the surrender of York, where he has placed Ld. Cornwallis at the head of the surrender altho’ it is well known that he was excused by General Washington from appearing.
Of the return of Massachusetts to sound principles I never had a doubt. The body of her citizens has never been otherwise than republican. Her would-be dukes and lords, indeed, have been itching for coronets; her lawyers for robes of ermin, her priests for lawn sleeves, and for a religious establishment which might give them wealth, power, and independence of personal merit. But her citizens who were to supply with the sweat of their brow the treasures on which these drones were to riot, could never have seen any thing to long for in the oppressions and pauperism of England. After the shackles of Aristocracy of the bar & priesthood have been burst by Connecticut, we cannot doubt the return of Massachusetts to the bosom of the republican family.
I repeat with pleasure the assurance of my great respect & esteem.