Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Smith Barton, 3 April 1814

To Benjamin Smith Barton

Monticello Apr. 3. 14.

Dear Sir

At the request of mr Jason Chamberlayne of Burlington in Vermont, a professor of the college there, I inclose for the American Philosophical society a pamphlet presenting a specimen of the language of the Iroquois, among whom he informs me there are many who can read. this however is beginning at the wrong end for the improvement of their faculties and conditions.

the care of domestic animals,


the useful houshold arts,

the acquisition of property,

the use of money

arithmatic to estimate it

writing to note it

then reading printed books, & first those of a popular character, and last of all those of religion as distinguished from morality; seems to mark the order of progression which has best succeeded in developing their faculties, enlarging their understandings, and advancing their physical happiness.

I am gratified by every opportunity of renewing to you the assurances of my great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Doctr Benjamin S. Barton one of the V. Presidents of the A. P. Society”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Eleazer Williams, Good News to the Iroquois Nation: A Tract, on Man’s Primitive Rectitude, his Fall, and his Recovery through Jesus Christ (Burlington, Vt., 1813; with copy at APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends inscribed in an unidentified hand: “Specimen of the Iroquois Language 15 April 1814” and “Sent by Mr Jefferson Prest of APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends From Jason Chamberlayne Burlington Vermt”).

At its 15 Apr. 1814 meeting the american philosophical society recorded receiving “a specimen, of the Iroquois Language transmitted by Thos Jefferson through hands of D Barton V. P.” and “Presented by J. Chamberlayne of Burlington Vermont” (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes [MS in PPAmP]).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; TJ forwards material to search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; and American Philosophical Society search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; letters to search
  • Chamberlain, Jason; and Iroquois language search
  • Good News to the Iroquois Nation (E. Williams) search
  • Indians; Iroquois search
  • Indians; languages search
  • Indians; literacy of search
  • Indians; plans for civilizing search
  • Indians; TJ on search
  • Iroquois Indians search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Indians search
  • language; Indian search
  • Williams, Eleazer; Good News to the Iroquois Nation search