Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 20 December 1816

To Horatio G. Spafford

Monticello Dec. 20. 16.


On my return from Bedford, after an absence of 7. weeks, I find here your favor of Nov. 23. with your magazine for Dec. 1815. for which be pleased to accept my thanks. you request permission to publish extracts from my letter of Mar. 17. 1814. on the anticivism of our professional crafts. on this subject I must observe that I have not now the buoyant spirits of youth which enabled me formerly to disregard hostile attacks, to assume to them a countenance of defence & defiance, and to enter the gladiatorial lists with them. writing, even a letter, is become my aversion. tranquility, reading and relaxation are the summa bona of my present moments, and I shrink from every thing which may disturb them. if the sentiments expressed in that letter are of any force or value, use them as your own, or as those of an anonymous correspondent. but do not, good Sir, make the least allusion to me or my name.

Whether the sale of a Gazeteer of this state would be extensive enough to make it worth your while to undertake it, I am less qualified to judge than almost any other person; because I rarely go from home but to another distant & more solitary one. I see therefore those only who visit me here. I should very much doubt the pecuniary success of such a work, and however desirable, it would be a serious wrong to encorage an undertaking which might very possibly lead to loss. our booksellers in Richmond could give you the safest advice on this subject. with my best wishes for your success & happiness, I salute you with assurances of esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NjMoHP: Lloyd W. Smith Collection); at foot of text: “Mr Spafford”; endorsed by Spafford as received 31 Dec. 1816; with his notation beneath endorsement concerning his reply of 20 (correctly 21) Jan. 1817 (one word editorially supplied): “Let. & sent [No.] 9 Am. Magazine. Requested his opinion of ‘Franklin,’ & the plan he proposes.” PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; torn at seal and damaged at fold, with some missing text rewritten by TJ; endorsed by TJ.

Index Entries

  • American Magazine; edited by H. G. Spafford search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; TJ on reading of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; publication of his letters search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; retirement search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ returns from search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Richmond, Va.; booksellers in search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; as editor ofAmerican Magazine search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; desires to publish TJ letter search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters to search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; proposed Va. gazetteer by search
  • Virginia; gazetteer of proposed search