Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
(800) 937-3880

Lot #7005
Thomas Jefferson Autograph Letter Signed

Handwritten letter by Governor Jefferson on the movement of Benedict Arnold's forces through Virginia

This lot has closed

Estimate: $35000+
Own a Similar Item?


Handwritten letter by Governor Jefferson on the movement of Benedict Arnold's forces through Virginia

Revolutionary War-dated ALS as Governor of Virginia, signed "Th: Jefferson," one page, 8 x 12.75, January 11, 1781. Addressed from Richmond, a handwritten letter to Brigadier General George Weedon, in full: "The enemy moved down the river from Westover yesterday. I wrote by express to Genl. Nelson this morning to desire that if they should pass Burwell's ferry (which would prove that they mean nothing against Wms'burg or York) he would in that point of time send off an express to you that you might thereby know that your whole attention should be pointed to Fredsbg. They have had the winds at their command and I am persuaded are at this moment either past Burwell's ferry or in Williamsburg. If the former I expect you will receive notice by tomorrow night. Should you not I suppose you may presume the enemy have not passed that point but on the contrary have invaded Williamsburg and that you should move that way. By halting a day you will refresh your men, and perhaps increase your numbers so as to render your approach to Williamsburg more safe and more effectually relieving. So that perhaps under this incertainty which way you should point it may be better for you to halt a day. I communicated to Baron Steuben my having referred your movements to your own discretion and in a letter from him to-day he perfectly approves of it. I cannot do better now than leave you master of your own actions, as events may become known to you sooner than to me which might render any thing positive not only proper but mischievous." Double-matted and framed to an overall size of 15.25 x 20.25. In fine condition, with slightly rough edges, and a missing upper right corner tip affecting one word of that date.

The enemy, as Jefferson explained in a letter written to Weedon a day earlier on January 10th, was a force led by American defector Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, whose regiment of '1500 infantry and from 50 to 100 horse…landed at Westover on the 4th' and arrived in Richmond on the afternoon of the 5th and proceeded to the foundery. 'We had withdrawn every arm from there and almost the whole powder. What powder remained they threw into the canal.' Despite losing '5 brass field pieces, 4 pounders…about 300 muskets, some goods of the public store, some Quartermaster's stores…artificers tools and three waggons…books and papers of the Council,' Jefferson conveyed a sense of great relief, closing with, 'In truth we have escaped to a miracle.' This followup letter reveals the great trust Jefferson held for Weedon, leaving him as 'master of your own actions,' with British movement towards Fredericksburg or Williamsburg still an unknown.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: U.S. Presidents
  • Dates: #630 - Ended February 17, 2022

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
Buy a third-party letter of authenticity for $250.00

*This item has been pre-certified by a trusted third-party authentication service, and by placing a bid on this item, you agree to accept the opinion of this authentication service. If you wish to have an opinion rendered by a different authenticator of your choosing, you must do so prior to your placing of any bid. RR Auction is not responsible for differing opinions submitted 30 days after the date of the sale.