Tag Archives: Grandson
J. Randolph now proceeds to Richmond in order to enter at mr Girardin’s academy … through a course of mathematics & Natural philosophy. the annual charges … 67. D. [$67] … [pay from] my account, & also for his board. I … have desired him to decide where he would rather [live] … I must pray you also to furnish Jefferson his other proper expences. he has been so correct in them heretofore as to give me strong confidence they will be reasonable with you. were any contrary indications to arise, I would sollicit your confidential communication of it to me that I may take such measures for his good as may in no wise commit you with him or any body.
To George Jefferson, October 31, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Clear-eyed leaders trust their proteges yet monitor their progress.
Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), former President’s eldest grandson known as Jeff, had pursued his advanced education in Philadelphia and then Richmond. There, the grandfather enlisted his cousin and business agent to cover the 18 year-old’s tuition, room and board. The elder Jefferson had a preference for living quarters but left the choice to his grandson.
He also authorized funds for “his other proper expences,” i.e. spending money. The young man had been wise in handling money, and Grandfather had confidence that would continue. Yet, if his agent learned otherwise, Jefferson wanted to know confidentially. He would handle it with his grandson in such a manner that Jeff would not know the source of the report.
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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.