Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Horatio G. Spafford to Thomas Jefferson, 23 November 1816

From Horatio G. Spafford

Albany, 11 Mo. 23, 1816.

Respected Friend—

After a long delay, occasioned by adverse events, I Send thee, by this day’s mail, another No. of the American Magazine. The Essay, partially read by thee, concerning the establishing a New School at Washington, & new modeling the Patent system of the United States, is in type, & will be published in a few days. I am in hopes this Paper will engage the attention of the Administration.

In 3 or 4 weeks, I shall publish an Essay on the errors of philosophical Science, embracing Some novel opinions of my own. This Paper, I have ventured to Dedicate to thyself, Dr Mitchill, & Count Volney, with whom I have the pleasure of a Correspondence.

I have frequently been solicited to publish Some extracts from thy Letter to me, of March 17, 1814: & to gratify many of my friends, I now very respectfully Solicit permission to do So. The Letter is the one acknowledging the receipt of my Gazetteer, & I wish to extract that part relating to the pernicious influence of our professional crafts, including the Lawyers, the Clergy, & the Merchants.

Some Gentlemen in Virginia, have recently applied to me to know on what terms I would undertake to write a Gazetteer of that State, & I hesitate about my answer. I am poor—&, if I execute such a Work, must do it for others, who have capital to employ in this way. I know, perfectly, the liberal character of Virginia & Virginians, & I Should be particularly well pleased with Such an undertaking, if I could make it Subservient to my own interest. Were I to write a Gazetteer of Virginia, I must spend as much as one year, travelling through that State: and it would take nearly another year to arrange my materials, & prepare the Copy for the press. Pray, my venerated Friend, would Such a Work be likely to be well patronised? My Gazetteer of New York, is nearly out of print, though I published an edition of 6250 copies. It has sold well; & had I not lost So much by Booksellers, I should1 have been well paid for my labor. Thy opinion, in this matter, would be of Such value to me, that I venture to use the freedom of asking it.

If I could prevail on the President, to give me Some office, at Washington, I could the better Succeed in this object.The Patent Office, regulated as I have proposed, in the Essay, mentioned above, would be, of all others the most agreeable; but I would accept of any that I might be thought to merit Thy goodness will pardon this liberty, wrung from me by events & fears & hopes. If thou couldest aid me in buoying up my hopes, ’twould Serve a noble purpose: for, truly, I am almost disheartened.Very respectfully, thy friend,

H. G. Spafford.

P.S. In a few days, I shall ask thy acceptance of an Anonymous Work of mine—a Novel;—designed as a vehicle for certain sentiments & opinions, that I could nowhere else introduce.

RC (MHi); postscript added separately at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Dec. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Francis W. Gilmer, 17 Dec. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, LL.D. Monticello, Va.”; stamp canceled; franked; postmarked Albany, 24 Nov.

Spafford forwarded by this day’s mail a copy of the American Magazine, a monthly miscellany, vol. 1, no. 7 (Dec. 1815). His essay on the errors of philosophical science, “Thoughts, on Philosophical Science, on Creation, and the order and constitution of Nature,” appeared under the pseudonym “Franklin” in the American Magazine, vol. 1, nos. 11–2 (Apr.–May 1816): 388–401, 411–21. The novel, by “Maria-Ann Burlingham” [Spafford], was The Mother-In-Law: or Memoirs of Madam de Morville (Boston, 1817).

1Spafford here canceled “now.”

Index Entries

  • A Gazetteer of the State of New-York (H. G. Spafford) search
  • American Magazine; edited by H. G. Spafford search
  • books; novels search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and appointments search
  • Mitchill, Samuel Latham; work dedicated to search
  • New York (state); works on search
  • Patent Office, U.S.; appointments to search
  • patents; and reform of patent system search
  • schools and colleges; national technology school proposed search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; A Gazetteer of the State of New-York search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and patents and patent system search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; as editor ofAmerican Magazine search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; desires to publish TJ letter search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; essay on philosophical science by search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters from search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; national technology school proposed by search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; proposed Va. gazetteer by search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; seeks appointment search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; The Mother-In-Law: or Memoirs of Madam de Morville search
  • The Mother-In-Law: or Memoirs of Madam de Morville (H. G. Spafford) search
  • Virginia; gazetteer of proposed search
  • Volney, Constantin François Chasseboeuf, comte de; work dedicated to search