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Mary Jefferson Eppes (August 1, 1778April 17, 1804) was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Known as "Polly" in her childhood, she later chose the nickname "Maria." She was known as such until her death at age 25.

She always had a sickly disposition as her mother did, but she also inherited her mother's beauty which was frequently complimented, to her chagrin. She preferred to be known for her character or mind.

In the care of slave Sally Hemings, she at nine sailed to England, where Abigail Adams, wife of U.S. Minister John Adams, looked after her before she joined her father in Paris. Polly attended the same convent school as her sister and was withdrawn with her. With her father and sister, she returned to Virginia in 1789 and lived for a time in Philadelphia while Jefferson was Secretary of State.

She married her childhood friend and cousin John Wayles Eppes on October 13, 1797. Their first child was born in January 1800; but lived only a few days. She gave birth to Francis W. Eppes in 1801. This was their only child to survive infancy. Their last child was born in February 1804. The baby girl was small and died later that year much to her mothers dismay.

Maria never recovered from her third childbirth. Her condition worsened and her father, by then the President, rushed home when Congress adjourned on March 27. She was moved to Monticellomarker and nursed by Jefferson and her sister Martha. She died on April 17, 1804 and was buried beside her mother, which she had asked for. It was her death that prompted Abigail Adams to extend written condolences to President Jefferson, thus ending the long silence between the two families that had been brought on by political differences.


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