Accession number(s): 2021.14
Object: Letter; Patrick Henry to Thomas Read
Material: Iron gall ink on laid paper
Date: May 10, 1799
Country: United States
Maker: Patrick Henry
Provenance: Patrick Henry (1736-1799) to Thomas Read (1742-1817) to unknown to Anne LeDuc (1925-2020) to Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation
Description: Patrick Henry wrote this letter to Colonel Thomas Read at “Charlotte” from Red Hill on May 10, 1799. This is believed to be the last letter Henry ever wrote as he died less than a month later at Red Hill on June 6, 1799.
Henry notes that he received Read’s patent for land and shared his plan to pay for his portion. Henry expressed his desire to settle a financial dispute, saying, “At my late season of Life Litigation is indeed painfull [sic]…. I wish however to bury the whole Affair in oblivion.”
The recipient is Col. Thomas Read (1742-1817) who worked and lived in Charlotte Court House, VA, near the location to which this letter was sent. Like Henry, Read served actively during the Founding period as a Virginia Burgess, a representative to 1776 and 1777 state conventions, and a member of the 1788 Constitutional Convention. He also served as clerk of Charlotte County from 1770 until his death; interestingly, Read signed the deed transferring Richard Booker’s 700-acre tract known as Red Hill to Patrick Henry in March 1794.