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Paul Allen to Thomas Jefferson, 18 August 1813

III. Paul Allen to Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia Aug. 18 1813—

Dear Sir

I have in consequence of the reception of Your letter & the prospect which it gives Me of rendering the work more compleat by the addition of Gov. Lewis biography prevailed upon the Booksellers1 to delay the publication of the first volume as it was not originally contemplated to have done.2 Their plan was to publish the first volume as soon as it was struck off & to have the second published with all possible expedition afterwards. But Sir I apprehend Your delay has done Me a benefit, as a publication in the manner contemplated would unquestionably have done an essential injury to the work. I am now authorized by the Booksellers to say that they will wait four weeks for the commu[nica]tion which You have obligingly condescended to promise [me. T]he work will now all be published at once, & your communication will be placed in the front of the Narrative. If Sir it would not suit amidst the multiplicity of your other engagements to finish the biography at the time which the Booksellers have stipulated I think that I might venture to add a procrastination of three or four weeks on my own responsibility. You would confer an essential obligation by informing Me at an early period whether either & which of these portions of time would best enable You to fulfill Your benevolent engagement. I am not apprehensive that the fulness of Your Biography will be an obstacle to its publication now that I have prevailed upon the Booksellers to procrastinate the volumes. I wish very much to enliven the dulness of the Narrative by something more popular splendid & attractive. The publick taste has from a variety of adventitious3 causes been gorged to repletion on fanciful viands & the most nutritive & invigorating aliments will not be relished unless seasoned with something of that character. Biography partakes to a certain extent of this quality, &4 is essentially connected with subjects dear to every heart

I am Sir with sentiments of esteem Yours &c

P Allen

RC (DLC); mutilated at seal; at foot of text: “His Ex Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Sept. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

The booksellers Samuel F. Bradford and John Inskeep, of Philadelphia, and Abraham H. Inskeep, of New York, subsequently published Biddle, Lewis and Clark Expedition.

1Manuscript: “Boossellers.”

2Reworked from “as it was originally contemplated to have done before the second.”

3Manuscript: “adventious.”

4Allen here canceled “were it only from motives of a wish to see.”

Index Entries

  • Allen, Paul; and N. Biddle’s history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Allen, Paul; letters from search
  • Biddle, Nicholas; and history of Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Bradford, Samuel Fisher search
  • Inskeep, Abraham H. search
  • Inskeep, John search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Biography of Meriwether Lewis search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; and publication of journals search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; TJ’s biography of search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; publication of journals search