Thomas Jefferson letter on land inheritance for grandchildren expected to fetch $35,000

A previously unknown letter written by President Thomas Jefferson offers a rare glimpse into the personal life of the Founding Father, a dealer of historical documents told

The July 24, 1805, letter from Jefferson to Bowling Clark — his friend and real estate manager who once oversaw Jefferson's home of Monticello — details the then-62-year-old president’s desire to commission the appraisal of his 4,812-acre Poplar Forest plantation so the property could later be divided up for his eight grandchildren.

“The time is now approaching when I shall wish to be parceling off some of my lands to my grandchildren,” Jefferson wrote. “This renders it necessary that I should understand the separate value of each portion of them distinctly. As no person is so well acquainted with them as yourself, I must ask a favor of you to consider the questions on the paper enclosed, and to write at the end of each the answer in figures, and to send me the same paper to Monticello, by the first post.”

Nathan Raab, vice president of The Raab Collection, said Jefferson — a voracious writer who kept a log detailing all incoming and outgoing correspondence from 1783 to 1826 — inexplicably did not list the letter in his papers, making it even more desirable to collectors. A $35,000 price tag has been set for the one-page handwritten letter, he said.


“Anytime you can part the curtains on the life of a public official and get a glimpse of how they viewed family, it’s uncommon and unique, particularly so with Thomas Jefferson,” Raab told “It’s an unknown, unpublished letter, so not only is it an exciting and meaningful piece, it’s an important historical find.”

The letter previously belonged to an anonymous collector, said Raab, who offered the letter for sale beginning Wednesday.

“It’s a very warm story of a grandfather and grandson,” Raab said.

Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was once praised by President Abraham Lincoln as the “most distinguished” politician in United States history. As a public official, historian, philosopher and plantation owner, he served his country for more than five decades, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Jefferson, according to one estimate, wrote 18,624 letters throughout his lifetime.

“There is also plenty of room for disagreement over the definition of ‘letter’: Jefferson did not keep track of brief letters like invitations or grocery orders to local merchants in his records, but he addressed them and sent them, and one could certainly describe them as letters,” a page on reads. “They seldom survive and are, again, hard to quantify.”