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Affidavit of Authenticity: the note Jefferson attached to the writing box


When Thomas Jefferson gifted the desk to his grandson-in-law Joseph Coolidge, he attached this note. Jefferson's words acknowledge the historical significance of the drafting of the Declaration and the place of the lap desk in the historical memory of the nation. A draft of the note also exists.

Th. Jefferson gives this Writing Desk to Joseph Coolidge, junr. as a memorial of affection. It was made from a drawing of his own, by Ben Randall, cabinet maker of Philadelphia, with whom he first lodged on his arrival in that city in May, 1776 and is the identical one on which he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Politics as well as Religion has it superstitions, these, gaining strength with time, may, one day, give imaginary value to this relic, for its association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence, Monticello. Nov. 18, 1825.


Division of Politics and Reform, National Museum of American History.