Thomas Jefferson was right-handed. However, in the fall of 1786, after breaking his right wrist in Paris, Jefferson temporarily used his left hand for writing letters. One of his most famous letters — sometimes referred to as the "Head and Heart" letter — was written entirely with his left hand.[1]

Although Jefferson's "left-handed letters" are surprisingly legible, they are clearly different from his normal handwriting, as shown by these examples:

July 1786 letter from Jefferson to Edouard Boyetet, written as normal with his right hand

October 1786 letter from Jefferson to Maria Cosway, written with his left hand














- Anna Berkes, 2/14/08


  1. ^ Jefferson to Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786, in PTJ, 10:443-55. Letterpress copy available online at the Library of Congress. Transcription available at Founders Online. The letterpress copy of Jefferson's letter to Edouard Boyetet is also available online at the Library of Congress.