Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Daniel Clark, 20 July 1801

From Daniel Clark

New Orleans 20 July 1801


I received a few Weeks since a Case containing the Indian Busts concerning which I had the pleasure of hearing from you last Year, and have waited some time in hope of having an Opportunity of sending it direct to Alexandria as a Port convenient to your place of residence, but being disappointed in my expectations I have shipped the Case on board the Brig Sophia Capt. Tibbett for Philadelphia who will deliver it to his Owner Mr Daniel Wm Coxe to wait your orders respecting it. I have taken the Liberty of adding to the Curiosities forwarded by Mr Brown two Castings in Plaister of a small Indian Image found some Years since in an Indian Mount in the district of Opelousas on the West of the Mississippi in this Province; the original from which they are moulded is in the possession of the Bishop of Luisiana and is made of a coarse grey Marble which must have been a work of difficulty to the Indians with such tools as they may be supposed to have possessed before the arrival of Europeans in America. On account of the want of Skill in the person by whom the Casting is made, the Characteristic marks do not appear as plain as in the original. It has evidently served as the Bowl of a Pipe in former days, and round the edge of the Bowl is a projecting rim intended for a rattle Snake coiled up. I shall endeavor to procure this trifle of the Bishop and if I obtain it will forward it to you, thinking it may be acceptable on account of its rarity. In the last Letter I had the honor of receiving from you you mentioned that your Pacan Trees at Monticello tho planted in 1780 had not hitherto born fruit, this must be owing to their being planted in too elevated or too dry a Soil as they bear in this Country in ten or twelve Years, and the trees in their natural State are I believe always found in the River Bottoms and in places occasionally overflowed at the annual rise of the Rivers. I have taken the Liberty of mentioning this Circumstance that you may try the Experiment on some young Trees I send herewith put up in a Case as well as a few Orange Trees which I hope will get safe to hand.

I have the Honor to remain with respect Sir Your most obedient & most humble Servt.

Daniel Clark

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

For the two indian busts sent by Morgan Brown from Tennessee, see Vol. 31:195–6, 309–10, 593. In October 1801 the ship carrying the statuary from New Orleans was forced to put into Norfolk in distress. Thomas Newton forwarded the stones to Washington by packet boat. Although the sculptures broke into “many pieces” in transport from Washington to Monticello, TJ was able to put them on display (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1058; Newton to TJ, 16 Oct. 1801; TJ to Newton, 9 Nov. 1801; TJ to John Barnes, 6 Aug. 1802).

Luis Peñalver y Cárdenas, Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas, visited the parish of Opelousas in 1796. For Clark’s first description of the bowl of a pipe, see his letter to TJ of 29 May 1800 (Glenn R. Conrad, gen. ed., Cross Crozier and Crucible: A Volume Celebrating the Bicentennial of a Catholic Diocese in Louisiana [New Orleans, 1993], xxv, 24–6).

TJ’s last letter was dated 16 Jan. 1800. The trees shipped by Clark were, like the sculptures, landed at Norfolk and forwarded to Washington. Earlier, Clark had sent TJ a box of pecans and a barrel of oranges (Vol. 31:237–8; Thomas Newton to TJ, 4 Nov. 1801).

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