Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel Brown to Thomas Jefferson, 1 October 1812

From Samuel Brown

Natchez Oct. 1st 1812


Mr Poindexter has obligingly offered to carry you a small package of Guinea Grass seed & a species of Capsicum indigenous in the province of Taxas. For all I know on the subject of Guinea Grass I take the liberty of referring you to a communication I have just made to the Editor of the Archives of Useful knowledge—It is highly probable, however, that you are much better acquainted with it than I am—

Of the Pepper I know little except that it grows in very great abundance in the prairies west of the Sabine & that it, is with the Spaniards & Savages, an article in as great use as common salt is among the inhabitants of the U.S. As soon as I can obtain a more particular account of it I shall do myself the pleasure of communicating it to you. The Roots are Perennial & in your climate would only require protection from the most severe frosts.

Mr P. calls

With great respect I am Yo Mo Obt

Sam Brown

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Mar. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in George Poindexter to James Monroe, [before 20 Mar. 1813].

Samuel Brown (1769–1830), physician and medical educator, was born in what soon became Rockbridge County. He was educated by his father, John Brown, and James Waddell, both Presbyterian ministers, before receiving a B.A. degree from Dickinson College in 1789. Brown then studied medicine successively in Staunton, in Philadelphia with Benjamin Rush in 1792, and at the University of Edinburgh, 1793–94. He received a medical degree from Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen in 1794. Brown began practicing medicine in Bladensburg, Maryland, and moved his practice in 1797 to Lexington, Kentucky. He published papers on medical and scientific subjects and in 1799 was appointed professor of chemistry, anatomy, and surgery at Lexington’s Transylvania University. Brown frequently corresponded with TJ. In 1800 he was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society, to which he sent specimens of mammoth bones, minerals from Mexico, and saltpeter. He helped introduce smallpox vaccination to Kentucky, treating five hundred people in Lexington in 1801–02. Brown moved in 1806 to New Orleans, then to Natchez, Mississippi, and after 1814 to Huntsville, Alabama. In 1819 he rejoined the faculty of Transylvania University as professor of theory and practice of medicine, a position he held until 1825. Brown helped to establish the American Geological Society in 1819, and he founded the Kappa Lambda Society of Hippocrates, which became a national organization devoted to the promotion of medical ethics and professionalism. He was also an American pioneer in lithographic printing. Brown died near Huntsville after a series of strokes (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 ; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 29:321–2; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 18 Apr. 1800 [MS in PPAmP]; François André Michaux, Travels to the West of the Alleghany Mountains, in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessea [London, 1805], 130–1; James A. Padgett, “The Letters of Doctor Samuel Brown to President Jefferson and James Brown,” Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society 35 [1937]: 99–130; W. Porter Mayo, Medicine in the Athens of the West, 1799–1950 [1999]; Transylvania Journal of Medicine and the Associate Sciences 3 [1830]: 151–2).

James Mease served as editor of the Archives of Useful Knowledge.

Index Entries

  • Archives of Useful Knowledge (Mease) search
  • bird pepper search
  • Brown, Samuel; and seeds for TJ search
  • Brown, Samuel; identified search
  • Brown, Samuel; letters from search
  • grass; Guinea search
  • Guinea grass search
  • Mease, James; Archives of Useful Knowledge search
  • pepper; bird search
  • Poindexter, George; carries letter search
  • seeds; pepper search