Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4

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Author: Thomas Jefferson

To Robert R. Livingston.

CHESTERFIELD, November 26, 1782.

SIR, I received yesterday the letter with which you have been pleased to honor me, enclosing the resolution of Congress of the 12th instant, renewing my appointment as one of their ministers plenipotentiary for negotiating a peace—and beg leave, through you, to return my sincere thanks to that august body, for the confidence they are pleased to repose in me, and to tender the same to yourself for the obliging manner in which you have notified it.1 I will employ in this arduous charge, with diligence and integrity, the best of my poor talents, which I am conscious are far short of what it requires. This, I hope, will ensure to me from Congress a kind construction of all my transactions. And it gives me no small pleasure, that my communications will pass through the hands of a gentleman with whom I have acted in the earlier stages of this contest, and whose candor and discernment I had the good fortune then to approve and esteem. Your letter finds me at a distance from home, attending my family under inoculation. This will add to the delay which the arrangements of my particular affairs would necessarily occasion. I shall lose no moment, however, in preparing for my departure, and shall hope to pay my respects to Congress and yourself at some time between the 20th and the last of December.

I have the honor to be, with very great esteem and respect, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.

1 [1 Mr. Jefferson’s reasons for now accepting this appointment, which he had previously declined, are thus explained by himself: "I had, about two months before, lost the cherished companion of my life [his wife], in whose affection, unabated on both sides, I had lived the last ten years in unchequered happiness." On the 19th of December, 1782, he left Monticello for Philadelphia, where he intended to embark for Europe; but the French Minister Luzerne, offering him a passage in the French frigate Romulus, then lying below Baltimore, he accepted the offer. The sailing of this frigate being delayed by ice, and a British fleet on the coast, information, in the meantime, reached America that a provisional treaty of peace had been signed by the American Commissioners, to become absolute on the conclusion of peace between France and England. On the arrival of this information, Mr. Jefferson was released from his mission, and returned to his home in Virginia on the 15th May, 1783. -- ED.]

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Chicago: Thomas Jefferson, "To Robert R. Livingston.," Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4 in Thomas Jefferson, the Writings of Jefferson: Monticello Edition, Vol. 4 (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904-1905), Pp.198-199 Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZN3NU9RWFHDXBM.

MLA: Jefferson, Thomas. "To Robert R. Livingston." Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4, in Thomas Jefferson, the Writings of Jefferson: Monticello Edition, Vol. 4 (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904-1905), Pp.198-199, Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZN3NU9RWFHDXBM.

Harvard: Jefferson, T, 'To Robert R. Livingston.' in Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4. cited in , Thomas Jefferson, the Writings of Jefferson: Monticello Edition, Vol. 4 (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904-1905), Pp.198-199. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ZN3NU9RWFHDXBM.