Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Wood to Thomas Jefferson, 26 December 1809

From John Wood

Richmond 26 December 1809


I beg leave to request your acceptance of the small volume on the rotation of the earth, which accompanies this letter. As the theory I believe is new, it would afford me much satisfaction to be favoured with your opinion of the principle upon which it is founded; for I am perswaded there are few persons in this country so conversant with mathematical and philosophical subjects. It gives me great pleasure to inform you, that your Grandson Mr Randolph that I have the happiness to instruct, is prosecuting his studies with an ardour which I am confident will be productive of effects honourable to himself and to his country.

I remain Sir with respect and esteem your obedient Servant

John Wood

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 31 Dec. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Wood, A New Theory of the Diurnal Rotation of The Earth; Demonstrated upon Mathematical Principles, from the Properties of the Cycloid and Epi-Cycloid (Richmond, 1809; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 7 [no. 305]; TJ’s copies at ViU, one with handwritten note by Thomas Ritchie: “With the Respects of the Publisher to Mr. Jefferson,” the other with TJ’s handwritten corrections based on the errata list).

John Wood (ca. 1775–1822), political writer, educator, and cartographer, was a native of Scotland who spent time in France and Switzerland before moving to New York City in 1800. He soon met Aaron Burr and wrote a series of pamphlets supporting his political positions. One of Wood’s efforts, The History of the Administration of John Adams (New York, 1802; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 506) proved so inflammatory that Burr tried unsuccessfully to suppress it. Wood lived briefly in Kentucky about 1806 and resided thereafter chiefly in Richmond, where he taught TJ’s grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph at Louis H. Girardin’s academy, 1809–10, and pursued his own mathematical and scientific interests. In 1817 he tutored another of TJ’s grandsons, Francis Eppes, began mapping the rivers of the Tidewater region, and unsuccessfully sought the professorship of mathematics at the nascent University of Virginia. Two years later Wood contracted with the commonwealth of Virginia to produce maps of all the counties and a general state map, completing ninety-six of the former before his death (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Mary-Jo Kline and others, eds., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr [1983], 2:642–6; David Denniston and James Cheetham to TJ, 30 Jan. 1802 [DLC]; TJ to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 2 Apr. 1816; Wood to TJ, 29 May, 10 Nov. 1817; TJ to Wood, 18 May 1818; Richmond Enquirer 17, 21 May 1822).

Index Entries

  • A New Theory of the Diurnal Rotation of The Earth (Wood) search
  • books; given to TJ search
  • geophysics; J. Wood’s work on search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; Richmond academy search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); and J. Wood search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); education of search
  • Richmond, Va.; L. H. Girardin’s academy at search
  • Ritchie, Thomas; gives book to TJ search
  • schools and colleges; L. H. Girardin’s academy (Richmond) search
  • Virginia, University of (Charlottesville); professorships at search
  • Wood, John (ca.1775–1822); and education of T. J. Randolph search
  • Wood, John (ca.1775–1822); A New Theory of the Diurnal Rotation of the Earth search
  • Wood, John (ca.1775–1822); identified search
  • Wood, John (ca.1775–1822); letters from search