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Patrick Henry to Thomas Jefferson, April 29, 1781

Sir. Leatherwood April 29th. 1781

The Bearer Mr. Thomas Boush waits on you with a proposition,1 the Nature of which he will explain to you. Nothing but a Conviction of an almost Impossibility of complying with your Excellencys Requisition for two hundred & fifty men from the County, could induce the Officers to trouble you on the Subject. I can only say that I am satisfy’d the Difficulty of getting provisions here & on the Route southerly, is extremely great, if not impossible to surmount—If your Excellency inclines to hearken to Mr. Boush’s proposals, I think he will be as fit to command the Company as any man I know in this County; & therefore I beg Leave to recommend him for the Comission. With great Regard I am Sir


Your Excellency’s most obedient Servant


P. Henry

I beg yr Leave for the Paper & Ink


NIC--Cornell University Library, Ithaca, N. Y.


Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was a Virginia lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of State (1790-1793), Second Vice President of the United States (1797-1801), and Third President (1801-1809). During the Revolution he was a Virginia representative for the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration. At this time he was serving as governor of Virginia (1779-1781). He had known Patrick Henry since the winter of 1759-1760 when, as a young man, he traveled to Williamsburg to attend the College of William and Mary. Jefferson’s own observations about their relationship made later in life, suggest it varied between friendship and animosity (“Recollections of Patrick Henry: Thomas Jefferson to William Wirt, 12 April 1812,” Founders Online, National Archives [http://founders.archives.gov/ documents/Jefferson/03-04-02-0496-0002 (last update: 2015-09-29)]. Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 4, 18 June 1811 to 30 April 1812, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, pp. 596–598).


1. Captain Thomas Boush (Bush) proposed to raise 50 horses to assist 250 militia men from 15 Virginia counties that Jefferson hoped to raise to supplement the army of Nathanael Greene. Boush carried this letter to Thomas Jefferson along with a letter from Abraham Penn to Patrick Henry, [April 1781], and Robert Lawson to Jefferson, 1 May 1781, in which Lawson observed that men in Prince Edward County were busy in the fields, but that “Armies must be equal to the task of preventing the Enemy from over-runing the Country.” (“To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Lawson, 1 May 1781,” Founders Online, National Archives [http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-05-02-0713 (last update: 2015-09-29)]. Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 5, 25 February 1781 – 20 May 1781, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952, pp. 583–584).

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