Quotations on Family

1780 November 30. (to J. L. de Unger) "-€¦when I shall again be permitted to withdraw to that scene of quiet retirement abstracted from which I know no happiness in this world."[1]

1789 January 11. (to Randolph Jefferson) "No society is so precious as that of one's own family."[2]

1791 February 9. (Martha Jefferson Randolph) "The one [letter] announced that you were become a notable housewife, the other a mother. This last is undoubtedly the key-stone of the arch of matrimonial happiness, as the first is it's daily aliment."[3]

1792 January 15. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "These reveries ... leave me always impressed with the desire of being at home once more, and of exchanging labour, envy, and malice, for ease, domestic occupation, and domestic love and society, where I may once more be happy with you, with Mr. Randolph, and dear little Anne, with whom even Socrates might ride on a stick without being ridiculous."[4]

1795 October 14. (to Pierre Auguste Adet) "My books, my family, my friends, and my farm, furnish more than enough to occupy me the remainder of my life."[5]

1797 June 8. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "When I look to the ineffable pleasure of my family society, I become more and more disgusted with the jealousies, the hatred, and the rancorous and malignant passions of this scene...."[6]

1797 December 27. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "I envy those who stay at home, enjoying the society of their friendly neighbors, blessed with their firesides, and employed in doing something every day which looks useful to futurity."[7]

1798 January 7. (to Mary Jefferson Eppes) "Harmony in the marriage state is the very first object to be aimed at."[8]

1798 May 31. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "The receipt of [your letter], by kindling up all my recollections increases my impatience to leave this place and every thing which can be disgusting, for Monticello and my dear family,, comprising every thing which is pleasurable to me in this world."[9]

1799 January 1. (to Mary Jefferson Eppes) "The circle of our nearest connections is the only one in which a faithful and lasting affection can be found, one which will adhere to us under all changes and chances. It is therefore the only soil on which it is worthwhile to bestow much culture."[10]

1801 October 26. (to Mary Jefferson Eppes) "Nothing can repay me the loss of [family] society, the only one founded in affection and bosom confidence-€¦It is in the love of one's family only that heartfelt happiness is known. I feel it when we are all together and alone beyond what can be imagined."[11]

1809 February 27. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph) "I look with infinite joy to the moment when I shall be ultimately moored in the midst of my affections, and free to follow the pursuits of my choice."[12]

1809 April 3. (to Inhabitants of Albemarle County) "The pomp, the turmoil, the bustle and splendor of office, have drawn but deeper sighs for the tranquil and irresponsible occupations of private life."[13]

1810 February 26. (to Kosciuszko) "I am retired to Monticello, where, in the bosom of my family, and surrounded by my books, I enjoy a repose to which I have been long a stranger."[14]

1812 April 25. (to James Maury) "I have withdrawn myself from all political intermeddlings, to indulge the evening of my life with what have been the passions of every portion of it, books, science, my farms, my family and friends. To these every hour of the day is now devoted."[15]

1813 February 8. (to Gen. John Armstrong) "The happiness of the domestic fireside is the first boon of heaven."[16]

1826 February 8. (to Bonnycastle) Jefferson congratulates Charles Bonnycastle on his marriage, "your transition to that condition of society which nature has wisely made indispensable to the happiness of man."[17]


  1. PTJ, 4:171.
  2. Ibid, 14:434.
  3. Ibid, 19:264.
  4. Ibid, 23:44.
  5. Ibid, 28:504.
  6. Ibid, 29:424.
  7. Ibid, 29:596.
  8. Ibid, 30: 15
  9. Ibid, 30: 381.
  10. Ibid, 30: 607.
  11. Family Letters, 210.
  12. Ibid, 385.
  13. PTJ:RS 1:103.
  14. L&B, 12:369.
  15. Ibid, 13:144.
  16. Ibid, 13:220.
  17. University of Virginia. http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/

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