Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Tadeusz Kosciuszko, [before 5 May 1798]

From Tadeusz Kosciuszko

[before 5 May 1798]


Give me leave to present you a Fur for experiment Sake to try whither the hops in this Country will have the same effect as it is in mine. you must spread with it the whole surface of the fur, and once or twice in the summer in Sun shine day bit out accumulated dust and pact up in the same maner again as i related before—when ever you will have a time in the daytime for a quarter of hour I beg you would grante me to finish what i have begone wyth Respect and Esteem your Humble and Obedient


T. Kosciuszko

RC (MHi); undated, but written before Kosciuszko’s departure from Philadelphia; endorsed by TJ.

It is uncertain if the fur mentioned in this letter is the one, reputedly a gift from Kosciuszko, that appears on the collar of TJ’s coat in the well-known portraits by Rembrandt Peale (1805) and Thomas Sully (1821). According to the grandson of Margaret Ellis White and General Anthony Walton White, whom Kosciuszko visited at their home in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Kosciuszko gave TJ and Margaret White “some very rich and valuable furs” that Emperor Paul I had bestowed upon him in Russia (Anthony Walton White Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends Memoir of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Poland’s Hero and Patriot [New York, 1883], [3–4], 24; Haiman, Kosciuszko description begins Miecislaus Haiman, Kosciuszko: Leader and Exile, New York, 1977 description ends , 51–4, 58–60, 79; Bush, Life Portraits description begins Alfred L. Bush, The Life Portraits of Thomas Jefferson, rev. ed., Charlottesville, 1987 description ends , 54, 76). See also TJ to Kosciuszko, 30 May 1798 and 21 Feb. 1799.

If Kosciuszko’s desire for TJ’s aid to finish what I have begone refers to the arrangement of the exile’s affairs prior to his departure from the United States, this letter likely dates from the latter part of April or the first few days of May 1798. A brief note from Kosciuszko to New York merchant Henry Gahn, who was a friend of Julian Niemcewicz and whose business interests took him as far south as Baltimore, may date from the same period. Kosciuszko, who in addition to sketching enjoyed shaping small wooden items on a lathe, wrote to Gahn: “Be so good to order your Servants for delivering my two boxes wyth turning instruments to Mr: Niemcewicz. wyth my best thanks, for you” (RC in MHi, signed, addressed: “to Mr: Gahn Esqre.,” endorsed by TJ: “Thaddeus Kosciuszko”; Haiman, Kosciuszko description begins Miecislaus Haiman, Kosciuszko: Leader and Exile, New York, 1977 description ends , 57, 110; Niemcewicz, Under their Vine description begins Julian Ursin Niemcewicz, Under their Vine and Fig Tree: Travels through America in 1797–1799, 1805, with some Further Account of Life in New Jersey, Elizabeth, N.J., 1965 description ends , 17, 24, 73, 125, 129, 299).

Index Entries