Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Circular from Hezekiah Niles to Prominent Subscribers, 31 July 1817


Circular from Hezekiah Niles to Prominent Subscribers

Baltimore July 31 1817


After revolving upon some suitable apology for intruding myself with the following statement and request, I have thought1 it most respectful to decline offering any, except2 to observe that if ought appears to your better judgement improper in either, that you will attribute it to any [thing]3 else than a willingness on my part to act so, in any respect towards you.

For six years ending with the next month, I shall have published the Weekly Register, in Baltimore. The weight of the accumulated debts due to the establishment with the great labor & vexation they give me, added to the general necessity that persons in our line have of now and then “winding up their business” as the phrase is, combined to make me resolve to give up the publication in reality, or at least apparently. This idea having gone abroad has caused many, whose good [opinion]4 is enough to flatter any one, to urge me to persevere, & keep up the work in its present manner, spirit, and form, altering only its conditions in any way that might give ease to myself, under an assurance of adequate support5 from the people of the United States. Thus encouraged, I have determined, as the only possible means of my continuing it, to attempt to enforce absolute payment in advance, which would not only releive me of a heavy expence and secure me from great losses, but give me nearly one half more time for editorial duties or needful relaxation from business—of which last I may be said to have had none at all, for the period stated.

To effect these objects—to realize the fruits of past labors & make those of the future less burthensome, I have determined to make the present, or 12th volume, conclude a series, to be completed by a very copious and general index of the whole, and commence in Sep. next, as it were, de novo.

I am perfectly aware that this arrangement will give a great6 shock to my establishment, but it is the only one on which I can consent to continue it & it requires that I should bolster it by all fair and honorable means—among which is the public opinion of honorable men.

I have been flattered with the beleif that the Weekly Register is not only7 useful as a book of almost universal reference as to past things & facts connected with the history and circumstances of nations, & especially those of the United States; but that it has done a good deal to rouse a8 national feeling and build up pride of character, hitherto too much neglected through the contentions of parties; & that while it has avoided all sorts of personalities, it has contributed to extend and encourage, as much as any other work, the principles of our constitution & to explain those laws of natural right & the reason of things on which it is founded. These assurances I frankly, confess, are very agreeable,—but I am conscious that they have rather grown out of my habits of thinking, and of industry, than of any talents, as a writer that belong to me.

This explanation and preamble is necessary to my request, offered with diffidence & submitted with entire respect to your decission whether, to grant it or not. You have had an opportunity of seeing the Weekly Register from its commencement, & I solicit your opinion of it to spread before the people—to extend its circulation through your particular countenance, to enable me to withstand any effect of the change that must be made in its pecuniary arrangements.

A letter exactly similar to this has been addressed to Presidents Adams and Madison to vice President Tompkins; to Generals9 Brown and Jackson, & Com. Rodgers and capt Porter; and if it is deemed right in you to give your opinion & for the purposes stated, I will be thankful to recieve it by the 20th10 of August.

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, with corrections by Niles; endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Niles H.” received 18 Aug. 1817, but recorded in SJL as received <18> 19 Aug. 1817. RC (MHi: Adams Papers); copy sent to John Adams; in a clerk’s hand, with closing and signature by Niles; dated July 1817; endorsed by Adams. RC (DLC: Madison Papers); copy sent to James Madison; in a clerk’s hand, with closing and signature by Niles; dated July 1817; addressed: “President Madison”; endorsed by Madison as a letter of 17 July 1817. RC (DLC: Jackson Papers); copy sent to Andrew Jackson; in a clerk’s hand, with closing and signature by Niles; dated 31 July 1817; addressed: “Major general Andrew Jackson Nashville Ten.” The texts contain minor variations, only the most significant of which are noted below.

Niles published his general index the following year as General Index to the First Twelve Volumes, or First Series, of Niles’ Weekly Register being a Period of Six Years: from September, 1811, to September, 1817 (Baltimore, 1818). He started de novo with the 30 Aug. 1817 issue of Niles’ Weekly Register, which began volume 13 of the work and volume 1 of the new series.

1Word interlined by Niles.

2All RCs: “expect.”

3Omitted word supplied from RCs to Adams, Madison, and Jackson.

4Omitted word supplied from RCs to Adams, Madison, and Jackson.

5Word interlined by Niles in place of “success.”

6RCs to Adams, Madison, and Jackson: “considerable.”

7RC to TJ here adds “a,” absent from other RCs and editorially omitted.

8RC to TJ: “to rouse of a.” RC to Adams: “to rouse up a.” RC to Madison: “to the rouse of a.” RC to Jackson: “to rouse a.”

9Manuscript: “Genlerals.”

10Reworked from “25th.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; circular sent to search
  • Baltimore, Md.; newspapers search
  • Brown, Jacob Jennings; circular sent to search
  • Jackson, Andrew; circular sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books &amp; Library; and newspaper subscriptions search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); circulars sent to search
  • newspapers; BaltimoreNiles’ Weekly Register search
  • Niles, Hezekiah; andNiles’ Weekly Register search
  • Niles, Hezekiah; letters from search
  • Niles’ Weekly Register (Baltimore newspaper) search
  • Porter, David; circular sent to search
  • Rodgers, John; circular sent to search
  • subscriptions, for publications; newspapers search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; circular sent to search