Octr. 25th. 1775. Wednesday.
Mr. Duane told me at the Funeral of our late virtuous and able President1 that he, Mr. Duane, had accustomed him self to read the Year Books. Mr. De Lancey who was C[hief] J[ustice] of N. York he said advised him to it, as the best Method of imbibing the Spirit of the Law. De Lancey told him that he had translated a Pile of Cases from the Year Books, altho he was a very lazy Man.
Duane says that Jefferson is the greatest Rubber off of Dust that he has met with, that he has learned French, Italian, Spanish and wants to learn German.2
Duane says, he has no Curiosity at all—not the least Inclination to see a City or a Building &c.
That his Memory fails, is very averse to be burthened. That in his Youth he could remember any Thing. Nothing but what he could learn, but it is very different now.
Last Evening Mr. Hewes of N. Carolina, introduced to my Namesake and me, a Mr. Hog from that Colony, one of the Proprietors of Transylvania, a late Purchase from the Cherokees upon the Ohio. He is an associate with Henderson who was lately one of the Associate Judges of N. Carolina, who is President of the Convention in Transylvania.
These Proprietors have no Grant from the Crown nor from any Colony, are within the Limits of Virginia and North Carolina, by their Charters which bound those Colonies on the South Sea. They are charged with Republican Notions—and Utopian Schemes.3
1. “This Ev’ning the honble. Peyton Randolph Esqr. late President of the Congress died suddenly of a paryletick fit at the house of Mr. Henry Hill near Schuylkill” (R. T. Paine, Diary, MHi, 22 Oct. 1775; see also Samuel Ward to Henry Ward, 24 Oct., in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 1:240). Next day (Monday) Congress appointed a committee “to superintend the funeral,” which took place on Tuesday the 24th, with Jacob Duché delivering a sermon at Christ Church and the entire Congress attending as mourners.
2. Though this is the first mention of Jefferson in JA’s Diary, it by no means implies that the two men were unacquainted. They had served together in Congress for about six weeks in the preceding summer and had been colleagues on one important committee, that which prepared a reply to Lord North’s conciliatory proposal in July 1775; see Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– . description ends , 1:225–233, and notes there. But since JA kept no diary during that session, we do not have his first impressions of the Virginia delegate whose career was to be so closely entwined with his own.
3. James Hogg had just arrived as a “delegate” representing the Transylvania Company, which, having purchased a vast tract of land from the Cherokee Indians, was endeavoring to establish a fourteenth colony in what is now Kentucky and Tennessee. Hogg’s very interesting report on his “embassy” to Philadelphia is printed in Force, Archives description begins [Peter Force, ed.,] American Archives: Consisting of a Collection of Authentick Records, State Papers, Debates, and Letters and Other Notices of Publick Affairs, Washington, 1837–1853; 9 vols. description ends , 4th ser., 4:543–546; see especially col. 544 on his meeting with “the famous Samuel and John Adams.” See also additional references in a footnote on the present entry as printed by Burnett in Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 1:210, under the erroneous date of 28 Sept.—an error that must be nearly unique in this invaluable work but that is attributable to the inconspicuousness of the date headings in JA’s Diary as printed by CFA.