Thomas Jefferson and the Case of the Missing Letters

The Text Message

Today’s post is written by Jackie Kilby, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

After a meeting with President George Washington in Mount Vernon on October 1, 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson rode off to Alexandria. It was only later that day did he realize he “unfortunately dropped… some papers… [on] the road between Mount Vernon and Alexandria,” as stated in his letter to James Madison.[1] At this time Madison was a Representative in the House for the State of Virginia.

On October 7, 1792, President George Washington received a package from a neighbor, who so graciously returned Jefferson’s papers that were “found in the Road.” Washington sent one letter in the stack of papers to the Alexandria post office, and then forwarded the rest to Jefferson to “relieve [Jefferson’s] anxiety.”

gw-to-tj-10-7-1792-page-1 Letter from President George Washington to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, October 7…

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