Featured Documents

In this section, we feature a small selection of documents from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, sorted by historical themes and subjects. Each document links to the transcription and annotations from our volumes, publicly available for free on Founders Online.

Accurate transcriptions and clear annotation help a reader to make sense of a document and to understand it in its historical context. For common abbreviations and repository symbols used, see the summary of our editorial method.

Instructions for the Arkansas and Red River Expedition, 14 April 1804

Vol. 27:675-677

In addition to detailed accounts of the region's geography, specimens of unknown plants and animals, and geological notes Jefferson requests detailed information about the dress, language, society, and reaction to the explorers of any Native American groups encountered.

From John Freeman, 18 April 1804

Vol. 43:259-261

After the death of Jefferson’s daughter Mary, enslaved servant John Freeman worries about the fate of the woman he intends to marry.

From Abigail Adams, 20 May 1804

Vol. 43:458-459

Abigail Adams, sharing the pain of parental loss of a child, breaks a long silence with Jefferson to offer condolences on the death of his daughter Mary Jefferson Eppes.

To John Wayles Eppes, 4 June 1804

Vol. 43:534-535

Jefferson writes to his son-in-law about his intentions to honor his grandchildren’s land inheritance at Pantops, encloses a letter received from Abigail Adams, and asserts that his only disagreement with John Adams was over the “midnight appointments.”

To Mustafa Baba, Dey of Algiers, 9 June 1804

Vol. 43:557-559

Jefferson commends the Algerian ruler’s “attachment to the Treaty which binds us together,” promises to send cannons and naval stores, and reports that additional US frigates will be sent to the Mediterranean Sea in a show of strength against Tripoli.