From George Skene Keith
Keith.hall by Aberdeen June 22d. 1801
I take the Liberty of sending your Excellency two political pamphlets, one of them a Prize Dissertation on the Excellence of the British Constitution, the other, a particular examination of the last French Constitution—The two contain as many examples as I could easily get introduced—of the different beauties or defects both of ancient and modern governments—
I have been induced to give your Excellency the trouble of this Letter, and the papers which accompany it, from the following Causes—I was in early life resolved to settle in America, at the Request of an Uncle, the Revd. John Barclay of St. Peters Church—near Easton Maryland—About 12 years ago I published a pamphlet on the Equalization of Weights Measures and Coins, which, with a manuscript sent along with it, was very favourably accepted by your illustrious Predecessor George Washington—And as I read a pamphlet by your Excellency on the same subject, I have taken the Liberty of sending other two pamphlets—
I have the Honour to be with great Regard Sir—Your Most Obedient humble Servt
Geo: Skene Keith
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) George Skene Keith, A Prize Dissertation, on the Excellence of the British Constitution (Aberdeen, 1800). (2) Keith, A Particular examination of the new French Constitution, which was Offered to the People for their Acceptance, or Rather Imposed on them, in December, 1799 (Aberdeen, 1801). See Sowerby description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends , Nos. 2805–6.
George Skene Keith (1752–1823) was a minister of the Church of Scotland for the parishes of Keith Hall and Kinkell in Aberdeenshire. He also published writings ranging from sermons and local histories to tracts on agriculture and political science. In the early 1790s, he forwarded to TJ and George Washington copies of his writings on weights and measures, including his pamphlet Tracts on Weights, Measures, and Coins (1791), which took issue with parts of TJ’s 1790 report on the same subject. TJ, in turn, disparaged Keith’s work as “lax” and imprecise (DNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, In Association with The British Academy, From the Earliest Times to the Year 2000, Oxford, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Presidential Series, 1987–, 12 vols. description ends , 8:312–14; 9:431–3; Sowerby description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends , No. 3766; Vol. 18:481; Vol. 20:592; Vol. 22:367; Vol. 24:44).
Anglican clergyman John Barclay immigrated to Virginia in 1756 and served several parishes in that colony and in Maryland before his death in 1772 (Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Presidential Series, 1987–, 12 vols. description ends , 8:314; Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington, 6 vols. [Charlottesville, 1976–79], 2:175).