Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Gordon, 20 February 1787

From William Gordon

London Feby. 20. 1787


I promised myself the honour of being introduced to your Excellency by a letter which my friend general Gates gave me, before I had the pleasure of hearing You was appointed ambassador to the court of Versailles. Ere I could reach home in the neighbourhood of Boston You had sailed for France. I have therefore applied to his Excellency John Adams for a few introductory lines, recommending at the same time to your patronage a work which has long engaged my attention, and which I mean should go to the press the beginning of October, and continue printing till finished, if Heaven indulges me with health. Suffer me to request the favour of your support; and that You will forward to the Marquis Le Fayette the parcel directed for him, as I am a stranger to his place of residence. I remain with the sincerest respect Your Excellency’s most humble servant,

William Gordon

RC (DLC); endorsed. Recorded in SJL as received 26 Mch. 1787 at Aix-en-Provence.

The letter to TJ from general Gates has not been found; it was presumably written in 1783 or early in 1784 when Gordon was still in America (he returned to England in 1786, having been in America since 1770). The work recommended was Gordon’s The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the Thirteen Colonies, 4 vols., London, 1788. For a summary of TJ’s assistance to Gordon, see Sowerby, description begins Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, compiled with annotations by E. Millicent Sowerby, Washington, 1952–53 description ends No. 487, which includes excerpts from TJ to Gordon, 2 July 1787; 16 July, 2 Sep. 1788; and 18 Mch. 1789; Gordon to TJ, 6 Sep. 1787; 24 Apr., 8 July, and 15 Aug. 1788, qq.v.

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