Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Thomson Callender, 14 August 1800

From James Thomson Callender

Richmond Jail, August, 14th. 1800


This letter will inclose a few pages of the second part of The Prospect. They contain nothing but what I fancy that You have seen already, as I sent You regularly the Petersburg paper, wherein they were printed. But next week, I Shall send some Sheets, that You have not seen before. A half volume will be ready, price half a dollar, in about a fortnight. I have by me as much manuscript as would fill two volumes, and materials, for twice as much more, so that, like the ass between the two bundles of hay, I am at a loss where to begin, or stop. I have been in very bad health, owing to the stink of this place, but I have got some better.

Mr. Rose, my worthy landlord, desires You to accept of his compliments.

I have the honour to be Sir your obliged servt.

J. T. Callender.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 21 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Petersburg paper: The Republican, published by James Lyon and Thomas Field (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1133; Callender to TJ, 21 Apr. 1800). According to tradition the 14th-century philosopher Jean Buridan used the example of the ass who starved to death, unable to choose between two equidistant, identical bundles of hay (DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York, 1970–80, 16 vols. description ends , 2:603).

My worthy landlord: William Rose was the jailer at Richmond (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:121; Durey, Callender description begins Michael Durey, “With the Hammer of Truth”: James Thomson Callender and America’s Early National Heroes, Charlottesville, 1990 description ends , 137).

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