Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Robert R. Livingston, 29 March 1801

From Robert R. Livingston

Clermont 29th. March 1801

Dear Sir

I avail myself of Mr. DeLaBegarre’s going to Washington to send you the teeth found in the western part of this state, drawings of which, I had before done myself the honor to transmit to you. May they not have belonged to the hippopotamus? The front teeth of that animal in the lower jaw being described “as projecting, furrowed & pointed, & as formed rather to tear than cut.” Fab: Columna. 32.—The Gent who will have the honor to deliver them is attatched to natural history, & havg. (in my name) taken a patent for making paper from the conferva, he is now endeavouring to repeat, & perfect my experiments on a larger scale, at the paper mills, & will shew you samples of the plant which may have escaped your observation.

At the request of Mr. Vander kemp, a Clergy man of much learning who resides in this state, I enclose an essay of his for your perusal without any observations thereon. The author is a man of much reading and enthusiasm. Hurried away by the Spirit of Liberty on the first attempt of his country, (the United Netherlands,) to free itself from the fetters of its old constitution He exchanged his gown for a uniform, & his pulpit for a troop of horse. exiled by the prusians, he has retired to the western part of this state with the wrecks of a large fortune, & devotes his winter to study, & the rest of the year to hard labor, for the support of a very numerous family.

I have the honor to be Dr. Sir with the greatest respect & the most perfect attachment Your Most Obt hum: Servt

Robt R Livingston

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esq President of the U:S:”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 May and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: see below.

Fab: Columna: Fabius Columna—that is, Fabio Colonna, a Neapolitan who from the 1590s through the early decades of the 17th century studied and wrote on various topics of natural science (Nicoletta Morello, “De glossopetris dissertatio: The Demonstration by Fabio Colonna of the True Nature of Fossils,” Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences, 31 [1981], 63–71).

For Livingston’s interest in making paper from Conferva, see Vol. 31:397.

Vander Kemp: in Paris in 1788, Baron van der Capellen van de Marsch sent Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, a Dutch Mennonite who was on his way to take up residence in the United States, to see TJ. At Capellen’s request, TJ wrote to Madison to introduce Van der Kemp. In March 1790 TJ, as secretary of state, responded to a letter from Van der Kemp to George Washington about means of reclaiming his property in the Netherlands. Van der Kemp and TJ exchanged a number of letters from 1812 until TJ’s death (Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser., l:18n; 5:243–5; Vol. 12:632–3, 655–6; Vol. 16:285).

If the essay was a published work, it was perhaps the Speech of Fr. Adr. Van der Kemp, at a Meeting, the First of June, One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety-Five, at Whitestown, for the Institution of a Society of Agriculture (Whitestown, N.Y., 1795) or Van der Kemp’s eulogy of Washington, Lofrede op George Washington, te Oldenbarneveld, den 22sten van Sprokkelmaand 1800, in Oneida district, staat van New York (Amsterdam, 1800).

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