Deathbed Adieu

Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, just a few days before his death on July 4, 1826:

A death-bed Adieu. Th:J. to MR.
Life's visions are vanished, it's dreams are no more.
Dear friends of my bosom, why bathed in tears?
I go to my fathers; I welcome the shore,
which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares.
Then farewell my dear, my lov'd daughter, Adieu!
The last pang of life is in parting from you!
Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death:
I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.

Henry S. Randall makes reference to this poem in his Life of Thomas Jefferson, but did not include the entire text, out of consideration for Martha Jefferson Randolph's privacy (she provided him with the text). It was first published in its entirety in Sarah N. Randolph's Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. Andrew Burstein also has a transcription in Letters from the Head and Heart: Writings of Thomas Jefferson.[1] The original manuscript itself is in private hands.

Footnotes

  1. Burstein, Andrew. Letters from the Head and Heart: Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2002.

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