Jefferson on Guns

     “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” 

                            Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to his nephew Peter Carr, August 19, 1785.

    Jefferson over years owned numerous firearms.  The most well known firearms owned by Jefferson were a pair of Turkish pistols received from the estate of General Isaac Zane in place of a money bequest. Jefferson described them and, at the same time, modestly alluded to his ability as a pistol shot: “They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel at 30 yards with them…” 

    In a letter to Payne Todd dated August 15, 1816, Jefferson wrote:  “You must now accept a keep-sake from me, which may suit you as a sportsman, better than myself who have ceased to be one. I send by the stage, to be lodged for you at Orange C.H. a box containing a pair of Turkish pistols. They were originally with wheel-locks, which not being convenient, I had locks of the modern form substituted, but so that they can be changed for the former in a moment. They are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel 30. yards with them. I fixed one in a wooden holster to hang in the loop of the pommel of [my saddle] to be handily taken out and in…I had other holsters also made for both [to] hang them at the side of my carriage for road use, and with locks and staples to secure them from being handled by curious people. One of the wheel locks is a little out of order, and will require a skilful gunsmith to put to rights.”

For more info:  http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/firearms

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Jefferson on Guns

  1. Another fascinating blog. Thank you.

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