Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Lambert to Thomas Jefferson, 5 December 1809

From William Lambert

City of Washington, Decemr 5th 1809.


I acknowledge with sincere gratitude and respect, the receipt of your obliging note, inclosing a vote of thanks from the American Philosophical Society for a table of the Moon’s motion, transmitted to you, some time since, as their President. Truly sensible of the instances of friendship with which you have been pleased to favor me, I shall endeavor to reciprocate, so far as I may have it in my power, those valuable testimonials of Esteem and regard.

Having completed my calculations relative to the longitude of the Capitol in this city from Greenwich Observatory, in such a manner as to satisfy myself of the accuracy of the result, on the most approved method of computation, I have lately delivered an abstract into the hands of Mr Eppes, to be presented to the House of Representatives of the United States, which will probably be done in the course of this week. I had given the preference to Mr Burwell, the representative in Congress for the district to which I am attached, as the organ of communication; but he has not yet arrived, and I did not think it proper, for several reasons, to wait longer than I have done. Altho’ I am convinced of the utility of the undertaking as a groundwork for settling, with due precision, the geographical position of the Capitol in this city, with respect to it’s relative longitude yet I did not suppose it advisable for me to incur the expense of printing at my own risque: it will be time enough to take that step, when the House refuses it’s Sanction to a publication: in either case, I intend to send you two copies, one for your own use, and the other for the American Philosophical Society.

It would, unquestionably, be of advantage to me, if I could be admitted a member of that learned Society; but if objections should be made, I do not wish to be proposed, for it would be extremely grating to my feelings to be rejected.

I have the honor to be, with great respect and esteem, Sir, Your most obliged, and obedt servant,

William Lambert.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, late President U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Dec. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ’s obliging note to Lambert, not found and not recorded in SJL, was probably written on or about 30 Nov. 1809, the day that TJ enclosed a similar vote of thanks from the American Philosophical Society to John Breck Treat. Lambert delivered his memorial and astronomical calculations to John Wayles Eppes, but William A. burwell presented them to Congress on 27 Dec. 1809 (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 7:145). Lambert was never admitted into the American Philosophical Society.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; and W. Lambert search
  • astronomy; and calculations of prime meridian search
  • astronomy; and lunar calculations search
  • Burwell, William Armistead; and W. Lambert’s astronomical calculations search
  • Capitol, U.S.; longitude measurement search
  • Congress, U.S.; W. Lambert’s calculations presented to search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); and W. Lambert’s astronomical calculations search
  • Greenwich Observatory, England; and prime meridian search
  • Lambert, William; and prime meridian search
  • Lambert, William; astronomical calculations search
  • Lambert, William; letters from search
  • Lambert, William; letters to accounted for search
  • Lambert, William; lunar calculations search
  • moon; calculations of motion, position, and distance of search
  • prime meridian search