ALS signed “Th: Jefferson,” one page, 7.75 x 9.5, March 2, 1826. Handwritten letter from Monticello to Thomas Shore, responding to an offer of assistance related to the crushing debt that Jefferson struggled under toward the end of his life. In 1817, the great statesman had turned the financial management of his estate over to his eldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, who ultimately devised a lottery scheme as a fundraiser: the idea was to sell low-cost lottery tickets with land from Jefferson's vast Monticello acreage as the prize. In February 1826, he successfully applied to Virginia's General Assembly to hold a public lottery—however, the motion required that Jefferson sell the entire plantation, rather than bits and pieces, which meant that the entirety of Monticello would pass out of his family. Thomas Jefferson's death on July 4, 1826, ended the lottery scheme, and left his estate encumbered with over $100,000 in debts and far fewer assets. His daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, retained Monticello until 1831, when she sold the property for $7,500.
In part: "I thank you, kind sir, for your very friendly letter of Feb. 22. it supposes in me claims on the attentions of my country to which I have no pretensions. I happened to be born in times which required, from all its citizens, every aid they could render, and gave full value to even the smallest which any could render. those within the reach of my faculties have been fully remunerated by the honors and compensations which my fellow citizens have bestowed on me. A refusal of my late request would have been that of a favor only, not of a debt; and so I should have viewed it. the granting it has conferred on me a benefit which I shall ever be bound to acknolege [sic] with gratitude.
Disabled by age and ill health from all attention to my affairs, I committed the whole of them, some time since, to my grandson Th: J. Randolph. the management of the lottery with which I am indulged has been solely left to him; insomuch that its scheme and administration are equally unknown to me. the offer you have been so good as to make of services in your neighborhood, I immediately communicated to him, and whether the arrangements he has made will admit his availing himself of it, or not, it is too kind not to entitle you to my sincere thanks, which I accordingly pray you to accept. I well remember the two calls which your father was so kind as formerly to favor me with, and I have continued thro' life to retain for him the most friendly...recollections. permit me to assure you that I feel your title to succeed to them, and that they are tendered with sincerity and truth."
Addressed on the integral leaf in Jefferson's hand to "Mr. Thomas Shore, Post Office, Petersburg, Va.," and franked in the upper left, "free, Th: Jefferson." In very good condition, with fold separations and seal-related paper loss inexpertly repaired with old tape.