Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Christian Frederick Michaelis and Others, 4 February 1787

To Christian Frederick Michaelis and Others

Feb. 4. 1787


The American Philosophical Society having heretofore done themselves the honour of naming you one of their members, the President has been pleased to transmit to me the Diploma made out in the forms used by the society, and authenticated by their seal. I do myself the honour of forwarding it to you and at the same time of assuring you of the sentiments of esteem & respect with which I have the honour to be Sir Your most obedient & most humble servant,

Th: Jefferson

RC (MWA); without indication of addressee; in William Short’s hand, signed by TJ. PrC (DLC); dated “Paris Feb.4.1787”; at foot of text Short copied off the following list of names of persons to whom the letter was addressed, each with its appropriate certificate of membership in the American Philosophical Society:


  • 1. Christian Frederick Michaelis. M.D. of Gottenberg [1785]
  • 2. Forbern Bergman. Prof. Math. Stockholm [1773]
  • 3. Lavoisier. of the Acad. of Sciences. Paris [1775]
  • 4. Abbé [Felice] Fontana—Director of the Great Duke’s Cabinet of natural history [1783]
  • 5. Tim. Baron de Kleingstedt. Councillor of State to the Empress of Russia [1773]
  • 6. Abbé [Jean F.] de Rosier of the Acad. of Sciences at Lyons [1775]
  • 7. Le Roux [1775]
  • 8. Christian Magee. L.L.D. of Heidelberg
  • 9. Gerbier. [Thibert Garbier] chez Messrs. les Abbés Chalut et Arnaud [1786]
  • 10. Chevalier Grenchon [Granchain] of Paris [1786]
  • 11. Gastellier. [René G. Gastelier] M.D. at Montgaris [Montargis] [1786]
  • 12. Grival. [Guillaume Grivel] Paris [1786]
  • 13. Doctor Noel [Nicolas Noël] Paris [1786]
  • 14. Abbé [Jean L.] Soulavie. France [1786]
  • 15. Peter Bergius M.D. Prof. Nat. hist. Stockholm [before 1769]
  • 16. Christian Meyer. Astronomer to his Serene Highness the Elector Palatine [1777]
  • 17. Signor Famitz of Naples [before 1769]
  • 18. Major Frederick F.S. de Brahm, Triers [1784]
  • 19. Charles Magnus Wrangel D.D. of Sweden [before 1769]
  • 20. Duke de la Rochefoucault [1786]
  • 21. Count de Buffon [before 1769]
  • 22. M. de Condorcet [1775]
  • 23. [Isaac] Jamineau, English Consul at Naples [before 1769]
  • 24. Daubenton [1775]
  • 25. Count Guichen. [1785].”

Entry in SJL reads: “American Phil. Society, new members of, here, circular.”

TJ evidently received Vol. ii of Transactions of the American Philosophical Society between 23 Dec. 1786 and the date of the present circular (see TJ to Franklin, 23 Dec. 1786). Franklin’s letter of transmittal of 8 Oct. 1786 only mentions “several Diplomas for foreign gentlemen” without specifying the number. Vol. ii of the Transactions lists only the names of those given above under numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 18, 24, and 25 (p. xxvii–xxviii); those whose names appear under numbers 8, 15, 17, 19, 21, and 23 are listed among foreign members in Vol. i (1770) of Transactions (p. xxii). The name of Christian Magee appears as given in same, but this must have been a confusion with Christian Meyer; the name of the former does not appear in Year Book 1948 of the American Philosophical Society wherein all former resident and foreign members are listed, but the name of the latter does (p. 404). The year in which each of the above was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society is supplied from the list in same, together with full names when given. For the confusion in respect to TJ’s own certificate of membership, see Vol. 4: 544–6. See Lavoisier to TJ, 3 Mch. 1787, and Daubenton to TJ, 15 Feb. 1787.

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