I have a grandson, Thos J. Randolph, now at Philadelphia, attending the Botanical lectures … [he] has a peculiar fondness for that branch of the knolege of nature … I am led to ask for him a permission of occasional entrance into your gardens, under such restrictions as you may think proper … in presenting him to my friends at Philadelphia I take the liberty of requesting them not to consider it as an introduction to such civilities as might abstract him from the studies which are his sole object there. the allurements of society are better deferred, & will always present themselves early enough.
To William Hamilton, May 9, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise old leaders protect young ones from unnecessary worldly influence.
Hamilton (1746-1813) was an accomplished horticulturalist whose gardens near Philadelphia were considered the finest in America. Jefferson asked if his 17 year old grandson, who loved botany, might visit those gardens. He vouched for the boy’s character and sent this letter in care of him, that he might deliver it personally and make Hamilton’s acquaintance.
Jefferson added a caution to Hamilton, as he did to others in Philadelphia to whom he introduced Jeff, as his grandson was called. He was there to study only. He did not want his friends to expose Jeff to any “allurements of society” that would distract him from that purpose. Those should be postponed as long as possible and would still make themselves known too soon.