Early ALS signed “T. J. J.,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 10, January 1, 1846. Letter to his sister Laura Jackson Arnold, written from West Point. In part: “Amid the scenes of mirth & joy by which I am now surrounded I grasp my pen to announce to you the reception of your heart churning letter with it came feelings of joy which are more easy felt by the heart than expressed by the tongue or pen. Among the items of your letter I observed an improvement of your health & an accession to your family both of which are as agreeable to me as to yourself. I look with joyful anticipation to that day which I will have the pleasure of verbal instead of expository conversation with you as well as all my friends. The misfortune of Uncle Cummins brought to my heart feelings of regret & sympathy which time will never be able to erase. But I sincerely trust that he may ride clear from all harm which should be the case if as I have been informed that there was false evidence against him. I have not written home since my return from furlough neither have I received one from there. My standing at present is undecided but the examination commences to morrow the prospects are more favorable for me than they have ever been heretofore. It grieves me to think that in a short time I must be separated from amiable & meritorious friends…Last night we had very fine music by the band. Among the tunes was Hail Columbia & Star Spangled Banner. We have concerts every week by the brass band. I could continue to wright [sic] until every line should be filled but being well satisfied that the foregoing will be as much as you could desire to read considering the hand in which it is written.” Intersecting folds (one vertical fold passing through last letter of the signature), scattered staining, and light show-through from writing on opposing sides, otherwise fine condition.
In 1842, Jackson was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Because of his inadequate schooling, he had difficulty with the entrance examinations and began his studies at the bottom of his class. Displaying a dogged determination that was to characterize his life, however, he became one of the hardest working cadets in the academy, and moved steadily up the academic rankings; he graduated 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846. Jackson had a very close relationship with his sister, who was just two years younger, up until the beginning of the Civil War; as the war loomed, Laura Jackson Arnold became a staunch unionist and broke away from the family. Both Thomas and Laura were raised by the "Uncle Cummins" mentioned in the letter, who had gotten into some legal trouble. He had discovered a vein of silver near his property in 1844 and began to counterfeit half-dollar coins of lead with a thin coat of silver; after several months, a federal grand jury indicted him for forgery and 26 counts of counterfeiting. A wonderful and historically important letter from Jackson's time at West Point.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.