Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Stockdale, 14 August 1787

To John Stockdale

Paris Aug. 14. 1787.


The books you have last sent me are this moment come to hand, and all right except that the ‘Historical remarks on the taxation of free states’ printed by Richardson 1781. is not among them. I will still trouble you therefore to send it by some opportunity. I thank you for the dozen copies of the Notes on Virginia. The remaining 34. shall be sold so as to pay the 8d. sterl. a vol. their transportation costs, the commission for selling and your 5/4. Upon the whole they must be sold at about 7.livre tournois 15s. Unless you are very sure of your information of the printing the Notes on Virginia in America, I doubt it. I never sent but six copies to America, and they were in such hands as I am sure would not permit them to be published. I have letters from Philadelphia as late as the 6th. of June, and certainly no such publication was then suspected by my friends. On the contrary Mr. Hopkinson, one of those to whom I had given a copy, and who is concerned in compiling the Columbian magazine, tells me he hopes I will not object to his publishing a few extracts from it, particularly the passages in which M. de Buffon’s work is controverted. So that unless you are very certain on the point, I shall disbelieve it. I am Sir your very humble servant,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC).

Actually there were more than six copies of Notes on Virginia in America at the time this letter was written. Three of these—those belonging to Franklin, Humphreys, and Otto—had been presented in France and subsequently carried to America by their recipients. Also, TJ erred in thinking that he had sent only six, for it is certain that copies belonging to James Currie, Francis Hopkinson, James Monroe, James Madison, John Page, David Rittenhouse, and Charles Thomson had been sent before mid-August 1787. TJ was right in thinking that a separate edition had not appeared in America in 1787; Stockdale had probably been misinformed as a result of the appearance of some parts of Notes on Virginia in American newspapers (see Barlow to TJ, 15 June 1787).

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