Thomas Jefferson Papers
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William Barton to Thomas Jefferson, 4 August 1814

From William Barton

Lancaster, Aug. 4. 1814.


I was duly favoured with yours of the 30th of June, and acknowledge myself much indebted to You for your polite attention to my proposed biographical work. I am aware of the difficulties to be encountered in conducting an undertaking of that Kind: they are such, however, as must be experienced by any man who shall engage in such a work; and although some of the obstacles, which stand in the way of a complete American Biography, are insurmountable, many others may be overcome by industry & perseverance. I shall not be easily deterred from prosecuting my plan; but I shall be in no haste to accomplish it.—The times are very inauspicious to literary pursuits. Our Country seems likely to become the theatre of a desolating War; the extent and duration of which, no man can foresee. In its consequences, I fear, it will prove destructive of some of our best interests. By grasping at imaginary advantages, we may perhaps forfeit, forever, the most important & substantial benefits a country can possess. Circumstanced as the United States now are, I am persuaded that the speedy establishment of a liberal Peace is the only means by which we can ensure a state of national prosperity and private happiness. I ask pardon for having obtruded these sentiments upon you:—feeling as I do on the occasion—with the most anxious solicitude for the welfare & honour of my native country,—I have been involuntarily led into an expression of opinions, which I know are not merely mine, but those of vast multitudes of the best men in the community;—I mean, intelligent & virtuous men of all Parties.—

Having been very lately in Philadelphia, my Bookseller informed me he had forwarded to you the six copies of my “Memoirs”—Will you permit me to request, that the amot of your Subscription ($18–) may be remitted to me.—

I have the Honour to be,
With great Respect, Sir, Yr Mo. obedt Servt

W. Barton

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Hon. T. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL as received 10 Aug. 1814.

Index Entries

  • Barton, William; letters from search
  • Barton, William; Memoirs of the Life of David Rittenhouse search
  • Barton, William; on war and U.S. society search
  • Barton, William; Select American Biography search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Memoirs of the Life of David Rittenhouse (W. Barton) search
  • Rittenhouse, David; W. Barton’s memoir on search
  • Select American Biography (W. Barton) search
  • War of1812; public opinion of search