Notes on Letters from Jan 1760 to May 1766

(Letters 1 – 11)

A brief letter at age 16 where Thomas Jefferson makes a very wise decision to go off to school to reduce on social calls to his present residence, and also decrease on the cost of attending to such guests. He seeks the council of one of his guardians, John Harvie, with regards to educational objectives.

A Christmas letter to a close friend, John Page, who seems to live back at Jefferson’s home town. He would have been 19 years old when he wrote this letter. Some series of misfortune had befallen him the night before for which he compared his lot to Job of old and was willing to credit the devil for some of the misdeeds that had befallen him.

Another mostly social inquiry from his friend, John Page. He proposes sailing in a soon-to-be-completed ship to the old world countries together with his friend. He finds his studies to be monotonous and mind numbing.

Another social letter. Some insights into Jefferson’s thoughts on happiness, and related topics.

Perfect happiness I beleive was never intended by the deity to be the lot of any one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I as stedfastly beleive. The most fortunate of us all in our journey through life frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may greatly afflict us: and to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives. The only method of doing this is to assume a perfect resignation to the divine will, to consider that whatever does happen, must happen, and that by our uneasiness we cannot prevent the blow before it does fall, but we may add to it’s force after it has fallen. These considerations and others such as these may enable us in some measure to surmount the difficulties thrown in our way, to bear up with a tolerable degree of patience under this burthen of life, and to proceed with a pious and unshaken resignation till we arrive at our journey’s end, where we may deliver up our trust into the hands of him who gave it, and receive such reward as to him shall seem proportioned to our merit. Such dear Page, will be the language of the man who considers his situation in this life, and such should be the language of every man who would wish to render that situation as easy as the nature of it will admit. Few things will disturb him at all; nothing will disturb him much.

Handful of letters mostly dealing with relationships of acquaintances and their romantic relationships.

Also, it is interesting to note the airs of youth and how pious and judgmental Jefferson was, not unlike how I may have responded in earlier years.

Leave a comment