PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph (April 18, 1834)

ORIGINAL IMAGES
Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph
SUMMARY

In this one-page document, dictated in Washington, D.C., possibly to Virginia Randolph Trist, and dated April 18, 1834, Martha Jefferson Randolph states the terms of her will, which was later superseded. She asks that Sally Hemings be “given time,” a method of informally freeing a slave while sidestepping an 1806 law that required manumitted slaves to leave the state within a year.

FULL TEXT

Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph

April 18th 2 o’clock in the morning Friday

To my five daughters I wish to bequeath my property in the funds. To Benjamin & Lewis the two negroes now in Benjamins possession my five remaining negroes Emily I wish liberated as soon as you break up housekeeping here; Martha Ann at the death of her old grandmother, in the meantime to live with her and take care of her. To Betsy Hemmings, Sally & Wormley I wish my children to give time. If liberated they would be obliged to leave the state of Virginia. To my dear George I have nothing but my love to leave, and in any division made of my books that he should have a share. In dividing the plate among you, I wish Jefferson to have the casseroles, & Mr. Coolidge the duck. To Nicholas I leave my fathers clock.

written by mama’s request

MAP
TIMELINE
April 18, 1834
In Washington, a seriously ill Martha Jefferson Randolph dictates a brief will to her daughter Virginia Randolph Trist. She emancipates two slaves and gives three others, including Sally Hemings, their de facto freedom. She also insists that Thomas Jefferson was not the father of Sally Hemings's light-skinned children.
FURTHER READING

Will and Codicil of John Wayles (1760, 1772–1773) Letter from Elizabeth Wayles Eppes to Thomas Jefferson (October 13, 1784) Letter from James Currie to Thomas Jefferson (November 20, 1784) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes (August 30, 1785) Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 26, 1787) Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 27, 1787) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Nicholas Lewis (April 12, 1792) “The President, Again” by James Thomson Callender (September 1, 1802) “Our massa Jefferson he say” by Anonymous (September 1, 1802) Editorial from the Frederick-Town Herald (December 8, 1802) Will and Codicil of Thomas Jefferson (1826) “Life of Isaac Jefferson of Petersburg, Virginia, Blacksmith” by Isaac Jefferson (1847) Letter from Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Joseph Coolidge (October 24, 1858) “Mr. Jefferson’s Blooded Stock”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) “Mr. Jefferson’s Personal Appearance and Habits”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) “Mr. Jefferson’s Servants”; an excerpt from The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson by Hamilton W. Pierson (1862) Letter from Henry S. Randall to James Parton (June 1, 1868) “Life Among the Lowly, No. 1” by Madison Hemings (March 13, 1873) Editorial in the Waverly Watchman (March 18, 1873) “Life Among the Lowly, No. 3” by Israel Jefferson (December 25, 1873) Letter from Thomas Jefferson Randolph to the Pike County Republican (ca. 1874) Hemings-Jefferson DNA; an excerpt from “Jefferson Fathered Slave’s Last Child” by Eugene A. Foster, et al. (November 5, 1998)

CITE THIS ENTRY
APA Citation:
Randolph, Martha. Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph (April 18, 1834). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/will-of-martha-jefferson-randolph-april-18-1834.
MLA Citation:
Randolph, Martha. "Will of Martha Jefferson Randolph (April 18, 1834)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 07 May. 2021
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