Trist, Nicholas Philip, 1800-1874Alternative names
U. S. diplomat; grandson-in-law of Thomas Jeferson.
From the description of N. P. Trist letter to Henry Carey [manuscript] 1869 Apr. 2. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647946227
Nicholas Philip Trist attended West Point; was a Louisiana planter, 1821-1824; U.S. State Department clerk, 1828-1834; consul to Havana, Cuba, 1834-1840; State Department chief clerk, 1845-1847; and chief negotiator of the treaty ending the Mexican War, 1847. He was also a lawyer and paymaster for the Philadelphia, Wilmington, & Baltimore Railroad Company, and postmaster at Alexandria, Va. In 1824 he married Virginia Jefferson Randolph (fl. 1818-1875). Other family members represented in the collection include Nicholas's grandmother, Elizabeth House Trist (d. 1828); his brother, Hore Browse Trist (1802-1856), sugar planter of Lafourche Parish, La.; Virginia's mother, Martha Jefferson Randolph (1772- 1836); and Nicholas and Virginia's children: Martha ("Pattie") Jefferson Trist Burke of Alexandria, Va.; Thomas Jefferson Trist, who was deaf, of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Hore Browse Trist, physician of Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C.
From the description of Nicholas Philip Trist papers, 1765-1903. WorldCat record id: 25968547
Diplomat and lawyer.
From the description of Nicholas Philip Trist papers, 1795-1873 (bulk 1831-1848). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70982493
Resident of Albemarle County, Va.
From the description of Papers : of Nicholas Philip Trist, 1791-1836. (Virginia Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 30087486
Husband of Jefferson's grandaughter.
From the description of Autograph copies of 3 letters of Thomas Jefferson : to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 1792 Jul. 13, 1792 Nov. 12 and 1815 Aug. 13. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270573201
American lawyer and diplomat.
From the description of Form letter to R. H. Bridgham [manuscript], 1847 March 15. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647807879
From the description of Form letter to R.H. Bridgham, 1847 March 15. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32959374
1800, June 2:
Born, Charlottesville, Va.
1818- 1821: Attended U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
Married Virginia Jefferson Randolph, granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson
1828- 1833: Clerk, State Department
Private secretary to Andrew Jackson
1833- 1841: United States consul, Havana, Cuba
Role of the consul in Havana investigated by Congress and the State Department
Appointed chief clerk in State Department by James Polk
1847- 1848: Acted as special agent in Mexico negotiating peace treaty with the United States
Received letter of recall from Polk administration, which Trist later disregarded
Signed Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexican commissioners
Practiced law in Philadelphia, Pa., and Virginia
Appointed postmaster at Alexandria, Va., by Ulysses S. Grant
Received compensation for services rendered during the Mexican War
1874, Feb. 11:
Died, Alexandria, Va.
From the guide to the Nicholas Philip Trist Papers, 1795-1873, (bulk 1831-1848), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)
Thomas Jefferson became acquainted with the Trist family during the Continental Congress in Philadelphia while boarding at the home of Mary House. Her daughter, Elizabeth Trist, assumed the role of a surrogate mother to Jefferson's daughter Martha on their visits to Philadelphia. After the death of Elizabeth Trist's husband, she and her son, Hore Browse Trist, moved to Charlottesville, Va. There he practiced law and married Mary Brown. Nicholas Philip Trist was born in Charlottesville in 1800.
In 1802, Jefferson appointed Hore Browse Trist to be customs collector at Natchez in the Louisiana territory. Mary Brown Trist remained in Charlottesville with her young sons Nicholas and Hore Browse while their father moved to the Louisiana territory to assume his post and establish a plantation. The Trists were reunited early in 1803, but Hore Browse died of yellow fever a few months later. Mary Brown Trist remarried two more times. Her second husband, Philip Livingston Jones, was a prominent lawyer from New Orleans who enrolled Nicholas and his brother in school there. When Nicholas was about ten years old, Jones died and his mother married a wealthy cotton and sugar planter named Tournillon.
Nicholas graduated from the College of Orleans in 1817, and, at the invitation of Thomas Jefferson, moved to Monticello to study law. There he became reacquainted with Jefferson's daughter Martha, who had married Thomas Mann Randolph. Nicholas fell in love with the Randolphs' daughter, Virginia Jefferson Randolph, and, at the age of eighteen, he proposed marriage. The family urged him to postpone the marriage because of his youth and financial instability.
Nicholas entered West Point in 1818, but chafed at the military lifestyle. In 1821, he left West Point and returned to Louisiana to earn enough money to marry. He helped his brother Hore Browse manage the family plantation and resumed his law studies. From Louisiana, Nicholas continued his courtship of Virginia Randolph, who refused to leave her home in Virginia. Nicholas finally returned to Monticello in 1824 to marry her and finish his studies with Jefferson. During this time, he worked closely with the aging statesman, who appointed Nicholas an executor of his estate. When Thomas Jefferson died, Nicholas Trist found himself in charge of a heavily indebted Monticello and was forced to sell the estate piecemeal.
In 1828, Henry Clay offered Nicholas a clerkship in the State Department to relieve the financial difficulties of Jefferson's daughter, the recently widowed Martha Jefferson Randolph, who was dependent on Nicholas for support. Nicholas worked in the State Department from 1828 to 1833. The Trist household in Washington included the three Trist children--Martha Jefferson (Pattie); Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson), who was deaf; and Hore Browse (Browse)--as well as Martha Jefferson Randolph, whose unmarried daughters, Mary and Cornelia, paid extended visits.
In 1834, the family was separated when Nicholas moved to Havana, Cuba, to begin his duties as Consul. Virginia spent the first two years of her husband's tenure at Edgehill in Albemarle County, Va. Jefferson Trist was enrolled in the Philadelphia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Martha Randolph died in 1837, soon after her daughter moved to Cuba. From 1839 to 1841, while Nicholas continued his work in Cuba, Virginia took Pattie and Browse to school in France. Trist was removed from office by the Whigs in 1840, but the family decided to make their home in Havana, where they stayed until 1845, living on a small farm overlooking the harbor, taking in boarders, and receiving a small income from Hore Browse Trist, who managed the family sugar plantation in Louisiana.
In 1845, Nicholas returned to Washington to work in the Polk administration as chief clerk of the State Department under James Buchanan. It was in this role that, in 1847, he received the fateful commission to negotiate the treaty to end the war with Mexico. During that mission, Nicholas defied a presidential recall, thereby ending his political career and condemning the Trists to a nomadic, debt-ridden life.
After 1848, Nicholas worked as an attorney in the firm of Fowler & Wells in New York City and made several unsuccessful business investments. The family achieved a semblance of stability when they moved to Philadelphia in 1854. Nicholas went to work for the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad Company, and Virginia contributed to the family income by taking in boarders and attempting to open a school for girls. During the Civil War, the Trists were Unionists, although they maintained ties with Randolph relatives who served the Confederacy, and Browse worked briefly as a surgeon in the Confederate army. After the war, Browse became a doctor in Washington, D.C.
In 1870, Nicholas received an appointment as postmaster at Alexandria, Va., where his daughter Pattie lived with her husband John Burke and their children. This appointment helped to relieve the desperate financial conditions Nicholas and Virginia had long endured and seemed to Trist a kind of vindication of his actions in Mexico. Nicholas died in 1874.
From the guide to the Nicholas Philip Trist Papers, 1765-1903, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (N.Y.)|
|Northwest boundary of the United States|
|Lafourche Parish (La.)|
|Northwest boundary of the United States.|
|States' rights (American politics)|
|Banks and banking|
|Compromise of 1850|
|Freedom of the press--United States|
|Diplomatic and consular service, American--Cuba|
|Banks and banking--United States|
|Conduct of life|
|Families--Social life and customs|
|Women authors, American--History--19th century|
|Women--Social life and customs|
|Freedom of the press|
|Mexican War, 1846-1848|
|Diplomatic and consular service, American|
|Diplomatic and consular service, American--History--19th century|
|Nullification (States' rights)|
|Trist, Nicholas Philip--1800-1874|