Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Crawford, 2 January 1812

To John Crawford

Monticello Jan. 2. 12


Your favor of Dec. 17. has been duly recieved, & with it the pamphlet on the cause, seat, & cure of diseases, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. the commencement: which you propose by the Natural history of the diseases of the human body is a very interesting one, & will certainly be the best foundation for whatever relates to their cure. while Surgery is seated in the temple of the exact sciences, medecine has scarcely entered it’s threshold. her theories have passed in such rapid succession as to prove the insufficiency of all, & their fatal errors are recorded in the necrology of man. for some forms of disease well known and well defined, she has found substances which will restore order to the human system; & it is to be hoped that observation & experience will add to their number. but a great mass of diseases remains undistinguished, & unknown, exposed to the random shot of the theory of the day. if on this chaos you can throw such a beam of light as your celebrated brother has done on the sources of animal heat, you will, like him, render great service to mankind.

The fate of England, I think with you, is nearly decided, and the present form of her existence is drawing to a close. the ground, the houses, the men will remain; but in what new form they will revive & stand among nations, is beyond the reach of human foresight. we hope it may be one of which the predatory principle may not be the essential characteristic. if her transformation shall replace her under the laws of moral order, it is for the general interest that she should still be a sensible & independant weight in the scale of nations, & be able to contribute, when a favorable moment presents itself, to reduce under the same order her great rival in flagitiousness. we especially ought to pray that the powers of Europe may be so poised & counterpoised among themselves that their own safety may require the presence of all their force at home, leaving the other quarters of the globe in undisturbed tranquility. when our strength will permit us to give the law of our hemisphere, it should be that the meridian of the mid-Atlantic should be the line of demarcation between war & peace, on this side of which no act of hostility should be committed, and the lion & the lamb lie down in peace together.

I am particularly thankful for the kind expressions of your letter towards myself, and tender you in return my best wishes & the assurances of my great respect & esteem.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Doctr Crawford.”

Crawford’s brother Adair Crawford was a physician and chemist in London whose Experiments and Observations on Animal Heat, and the Inflammation of Combustible Bodies; Being an Attempt to Resolve these Phænomena into a General Law of Nature, 2d ed. (London, 1788; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 842) achieved some prominence (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ). TJ’s biblical reference to the lion & the lamb paraphrases Isaiah 11.6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Index Entries

  • A Lecture, introductory to a Course of Lectures on the Cause, Seat and Cure of Diseases (Crawford) search
  • Bible; Isaiah referenced by TJ search
  • Crawford, Adair; Experiments and Observations on Animal Heat search
  • Crawford, John; A Lecture, introductory to a Course of Lectures on the Cause, Seat and Cure of Diseases search
  • Crawford, John; letters to search
  • Experiments and Observations on Animal Heat (Crawford) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Great Britain search
  • medicine; works on, forwarded to TJ search