Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Willson Peale, 4 August 1806

Museum July i. e. Aug. 4th. 1806.

Dear Sir

I presented to the Philosophical Society at their last setting, the drawing of the Antilope with a short description of it, “done from a specimen in my Museum, which was sent from the interior of Louisana by Captn. Lewis, and presented to the Museum by the President in Octr. 1805” A member demanded of me, what name I gave it? to which, after a few moments reflection, I replyed The forked Horned Antilope. but Sir that is not a scientific name. It is not a Lattin Name but one most descriptive of the Animal, since we knew of no Antilope besides having forked Horns. this was admitted as true. As men pretending to a knowledge must be humoured with the high sounding names made from the dead Languages, I most humbly request of you my dear Sir, to give me a Name for this American Antilope, perhaps the Indian Name, if it could be had would be a proper one. however I leave it to your superior judgement, and shall only say that whatever you think proper to give it, will be placed in print on the Animal in the Museum, and given to the Society, as of your choise or not as you may please to direct. I shall be glad to hear that you have got the machinery to moove the Inkpots to your small Polygraph without much difficulty, and to satisfaction. I have heard of a proposal by Mr. Joel Barlow, to form a National Institute at Washington, I have not seen the Pamphlet, and therefore dont know whether my Museum might not be imbraced amongst the first of its establishments—at my time of Life I cannot help feeling some Anxiety to know the fate of my Labours. Every thing I do is with a view to a permanency. yet at my death there is a danger of it being divided or lost to my Country. accept the respects of

C W Peale.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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