Historygasm: Letter to Martha Jefferson Randolph from Marie Jacinthe de Botidoux

March 17, 2014

The wonderful Megan Brett did me and my co-author a solid last weekend and went to UVA to help us find a letter in which one of Patsy Jefferson’s suitors is mentioned. One William Short. I started to get excited when I saw this.

Then the hairs on my nape started to rise when I saw this. OMG, a real letter from 1789, the autumn after Patsy Jefferson and her family left Paris, at the start of the French Revolution. So awesome. So cool. I want to touch it. I want to TOUCH IT….

Then reality struck me. It’s in French! And I can’t read French. Anyone out there want to help us translate?

Page One

Page Two



Page Three


Page Four


Page Five


Page Six

Page Seven

Page Eight

Page Nine

Page Ten

There are more pages to this letter, but I figure beyond ten, if Marie hasn’t mentioned William Short, we’re in trouble 😛

4 Responses to Historygasm: Letter to Martha Jefferson Randolph from Marie Jacinthe de Botidoux

  • The beginning of this letter is fascinating. My French is rather rust since I haven’t used it much since high school, but she seems to be talking about politics and religion, possibly something to do with the separation of church and state? Or nuns? Or something? Gah, dead people and their indecipherable handwriting…

  • Yes, she is in a convent, where she and Patsy were educated together! And it’s during the French revolution, so you can expect lots of that.

  • I am a professional French interpreter and a history aficionado. I have published two articles in Military History Quarterly…anyway, I would be love to translate the letter for you. Can you send me a clear copy? I will get a translation done for you ASAP.

    Teri Sprackland