UVa Library Press Releases
FOUNDING FATHER'S LETTERS TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN COME TO LIGHT AFTER TWO CENTURIES
Contact: Michael Plunkett, director of Special Collections at (804) 924-3998 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PERSONAL LETTERS FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON TO FAMOUS BEAUTY ARE PART OF NEW COLLECTION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., April 26 -- The University of Virginia has acquired an important, 18th century collection of personal letters, which includes correspondence from Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Angelica Schuyler Church, Hamilton's sister -in-law,corresponded with many of the young country's most prominent figures, among them, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette,General Van Renssalaer and the Baron von Steuben. The collection of 77 letters and documents, which has been in private hands until now, includes 13 letters from Jefferson and 11 from Hamilton. "This archive offers a rare glimpse of Mr. Jefferson at his most personal and candid," said John T. Casteen III, U.Va.president. "At the same time, it enriches Alderman Library's c ollection of rare, printed materials and manuscripts related to the nation's founders."
The morning you left us, all was wrong. even the sunshine was provoking with which I never quarrelled before. I took it into my head he shone only to throw light on our loss: to present a chearfulness not at all in unison with my mind. I mounted my hor se earlier than common. I took by instinct the road you had taken. Jefferson to church, Feb. 17, 1788, from Paris
Church's family kept the papers together throughout the years, but last February contacted an antiquarian book dealer in , Mass., about selling them. The dealer offered them first toU.Va.'s Alderman Library, one of the few institutions actively collec ting original Jefferson documents, said Michael Plunkett,director of special collections for the university library system. U.Va. was able to purchase the collection through the generosity of an anonymous donor who paid the lion's share of the papers' $27 5,000 cost. Had the family decided to sell the letters one by one, the collection would have brought the family"considerably more," said Karin Wittenborg, university librarian. "It is a rare opportunity for a research library to acquire such an important collection of letters, kept intact by a family for nearly two centuries," said Wittenborg. "We are delighted that we will be able to make these letters widely accessible to scholars." Wittenborg said the Church letters strengthen an "already very strong Jefferson collection" at the university. With more than 3,650 items, most of them original documents, U.Va. houses one of the primary research collections on Jefferson in the United States, third in importance behind the Library of Congress and the Mass achusetts Historical Society, according to John Catanzariti,editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. Finding Jefferson letters for sale is rare, said Plunkett, who says he generally sees only one to three a year. "There's not that many around anymore," he said, "so adding 13 in one fell swoop is quite an accomplishment for us."
I learn through the newspapers [of] your arrival at New York and hasten to welcome you to the bosom of your friends &native country. I feel one anxiety the less for the fate of the rotten bark from which you have escaped, & sincerely congratulate you o n that escape. I wish I could have welcomed you to a state of perfect calm: but you will find that the agitations of Europe have reached even us, and that here, as there, they are permitted to disturb social life: that we have not yet learnt to give every thing to it's proper place; discord to our senates, love and friendship to society. Jefferson to Church,May 24, 1797, from Philadelphia
Church was the daughter of Philip John Schuyler, a member of the Continental Congress and later, one of the first two U.S.Senators from New York. Her sister, Elizabeth, married Hamilton. Her husband, John Church, was a British-born adventurer who fled England after a duel and later, using the name John Carter, eloped with Angelica Schuyler, much to her parents dismay. Later, Church became a successful entrepreneur and he and his wife, a famous beauty, socialized with many of the young country's leade rs. Plunkett said the university hopes to receive the letters within a few weeks. They will be housed with the library's special collections in the basement of Alderman Library and moved to the new special collections library planned for construction at t he turn of the century. Wittenborg said Alderman Library plans to mount a public exhibit of the letters this fall.
April 25, 1996
For more information, call Michael Plunkett at (804)924-3998. Television reporters should contact our TV News Office at(804) 924-7550.