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To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Story, 27 October 1801

From Isaac Story

Marblehead Oct 27. 1801.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Most respected Sire,

I had the happiness of being acquainted with your two worthy Predecessors. I have had the happiness of perusing the writings of Mr. Jefferson. They convinced me that he was a Gentleman of great Erudition, & of a most excellent taste. I hope he will shine with equal lustre as President of the united States. His inaugural speech filled me with rapture, it exceeds every thing of the kind I ever read. I drew up this Conclusion in my own mind, that if his public administrations quadrated with this speech, it would conciliate the affections of his Opposers, & make him the Pride & glory of America.

I am, by profession, a Clergyman; & was handsomely settled in 1771; & at the early age of twenty one. But by reason of the american war, & the war now in Europe, my salary, for a great part of the time, has been very inadequate. My applications for a permanent addition have been ineffectual, merely because I possess a private Income. Hence if I had a handsome public appointment, I should quit them, for nothing short of this will convince them of their folly & injustice.—

Capt. Michael Haskel of this town, who was formerly acquainted with you, speaks of you in the highest terms of veneration & respect. Indeed all the Inhabitants of this town, with a small exception, are Jeffersonians & Gerryites, which are synonimous terms. He has pressed me most ardently to pay you a visit, & has offered to defray the expences. But I have too independant a mind to accept the offer; nor do I think it prudent to be absent so long from my people, for my Parish is the largest in New England, containing 3,000 Souls.

I now send you, Sir, an Oration of my son; & should have sent it sooner, had it been in my power. He has wrote a book of poetry, which art he must have derived from his mother, who has a good taste that way, & she from her great grandmother, Governor Bradstreets Lady. He is a Lawyer in Sterling near Worcester. His brother Mr. Bradstreet Story is in England on Commercial business. I have spared neither for cost nor pains upon them, & they amply repay me.—

Possessing an active mind, I have not confined my attention to theological subjects; but have branched out into various Sciences. And have sent a number of Communications to the american Academy of Arts & Sciences. I inclose a Copy of one of them, & hope it will not be unacceptable to your philosophical mind.—

I subscribe myself with sentiments of the highest respect, your very humble Servant

Isaac Story

P.S. Two of your public Officers, Mr. Madison & Mr. Habersham were my Cotemporaries at College—

RC (MiU-C); endorsed by TJ as received 9 Nov. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Isaac Story, Jr., An Oration, on the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. Pronounced at Worcester, July 4, 1801 (Worcester, 1801); Sowerby description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends , No. 3269. (2) Isaac Story, “The Metempsychosis doctrine, in a limited sense, defended,” in which Story suggests that the transfer of a soul from one body to another, a notion condemned by most Christian theologians, might apply in cases where death occurred in those whose “spirits have never had a time of probation allotted them” (MS in same; entirely in Story’s hand; at foot of text: “The Revd. Joseph Willard DD. Vice President of the american Academy of Arts & Sciences. penned in 1790”).

Clergyman Isaac Story (1749–1816), a graduate of the College of New Jersey, became pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Marblehead in 1771. Shortly thereafter, he married Rebecca Bradstreet, the daughter of Story’s recently deceased predecessor, the Reverend Simon Bradstreet. Although Story’s tenure at Marblehead was lengthy, his relationship with the congregation became increasingly strained and he resigned his pastorate in 1802. Following his resignation, he wrote TJ several times requesting a civil appointment. He was made a commissioner of bankruptcy in 1802, only to be informed by TJ that his appointment was a mistake and was intended for Joseph Story, his nephew (McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768 description begins James McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768: A Biographical Dictionary, Princeton, 1976 description ends , 655–7; Boston Post-Boy, 6 Jan. 1772; Story to TJ, 8 May, 28 July, and 18 Aug. 1802; TJ to Story, 5 Aug. 1802).

My Son: Isaac Story, Jr., the second of eleven children born to Isaac and Rebecca Story, was a lawyer, writer, and poet. A book of his poetry, A Parnassian Shop, Opened in the Pindaric Stile, was published in 1801 at Boston under the pseudonym Peter Quince (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

Governor Bradstreets Lady: probably Anne Bradstreet, the seventeenth-century poet and first wife of Governor Simon Bradstreet of Massachusetts (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

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