Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Jared Sparks, 27 December 1817

To Jared Sparks

Monticello Dec. 27. 17.

Sir

I am sorry it is not in my power to give any information of value on the subject of mr Ledyard. he was several times at Paris while I resided there, made considerable stays, and was almost an inmate of my house while there. thro’ the intervention of Baron Grimm, private agent of the empress Catharine, I obtained permission from her for his going to Kamschatka & thence to the Western coast of America, as stated in the life of Lewis to which you refer. while I lived at Washington, some person stating himself to be the cousin of Ledyard, & proposing to write the history of his life, applied to me for any information I could give on the subject. I inclosed to him letters I had recieved from Ledyard on various occasions during his peregrinations, and particularly that from Cairo written a day or two before his death. I never heard more from the person & have now forgotten his name. could I recollect his name, I might turn to his letter. from this person if living, or among his papers, if dead, these letters may possibly be procured, and might furnish matter worth notice; but nothing now in my possession is of any account.

Accept the assurance of my great respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (NIC: Jefferson-Sparks Letters); addressed: “Mr Jared Sparks. Harvard university Cambridge Mass.”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 30 Dec. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of William Short to TJ, 5 Oct. 1817; endorsed by TJ.

TJ shared his correspondence with John Ledyard’s cousin Isaac Ledyard by 1798 (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 41 vols. description ends , 30:226–7). John Ledyard wrote his last letter to TJ from cairo on 15 Nov. 1788, nearly two months before his death in January 1789 (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 41 vols. description ends , 14:180–2; ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

Index Entries

  • Catherine II (“the Great”), empress of Russia; and F. M. Grimm search
  • Grimm, Friedrich Melchior, baron von; and J. Ledyard (1751–89) mission search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; with J. Ledyard (1751–89) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Biography of Meriwether Lewis search
  • Kamchatka search
  • Ledyard, Isaac; and J. Ledyard (1751–89) search
  • Ledyard, John (1751–89); and western exploration search
  • Ledyard, John (1751–89); biography of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; TJ’s biography of search
  • Sparks, Jared; and J. Ledyard (1751–89) search
  • Sparks, Jared; letters to search