Thomas Jefferson


ALS from Monticello  August 15, 1816  from his famous home at Monticello

to "David Gelston esq."


“I before e except after c”


Evidently this spelling ‘rule’ was not taught in Jefferson’s day … or

maybe he failed that lesson. In any case the present letter breaks the

rule many times. So if you make this mistake, you can say “Thomas

Jefferson made the same mistake!”

BUT, after seeing this exhibit, we bet you will never forget this rule.


In this letter, Jefferson is continuing an earlier correspondence with Gelston, concerning various and different articles arriving from Europe, wherein the former president had listed specific destinations for particular goods. Here, he reiterates the contents of earlier communications between the two men, and thanks Gelston for accommodating any trouble his requests may have caused.


 [Spelling corrected] "Dear Sir - Your favors of July 31. and Aug. 6. are both at hand. I considered that of July 31. as answered by mine of Aug. 3. altho' not then received: and indeed the general request I made you in that, anticipated the subject of your last letter also; by requesting all articles received for me to be consigned to mess'rs Gibson & Jefferson of Richmond, drawing on them for whatever articles of expense may be referred to them, and notifying me of any others. If the bank paper of Richmond is receivable with you I could always myself make prompt returns to you by mail. if not receivable I should always be obliged to remit thro' my correspondents at Richmond. I shall often be needing apologies for these troubles to you, which I hope you will excuse and be assured of my great esteem and respect," and has placed his neatly scripted signature, "Th. Jefferson"


Gelston (1733-1828), an early supporter of Independence, was a delegate to the Provincial Congress held in New York in 1775, and attended the Convention convened in Harlem (July, 1776) to cooperate with the newly formed Continental Congress. He represented Suffolk County at the New York Constitutional Convention, and, after the Revolution, he resided in New York City, serving as surrogate and a member of the State Legislature. In July, 1801, President Jefferson appointed Gelston Collector of the Port of New York, an office he held until his retirement in 1820.