Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to James H. McCulloh, 7 November 1817

To James H. McCulloh

Monticello Nov. 7. 17.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments & his thanks to Doctor McCulloch for the copy of his Researches on America which he has been so kind as to send him. the question he treats has long excited the enquiries of the Ingenious. some have been contented with accounting for the origin of the Man of the new continent some with that of it’s animals generally: Doctr M’Culloch’s hypothesis would account for the vegetable as well as animal state of America, the latter being quite as much a desideratum as the former. the case however seems too refractory to admit a conclusion with the Q.E.D. of Euclid. he salutes Dr McCulloch with esteem & respect.

PoC (DLC); on verso of a reused address cover from Daniel Brent to TJ; dateline beneath closing; at foot of text: “Doctr James H. M’Culloh”; endorsed by TJ.

In his Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. (2d ed., Baltimore, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 173]; TJ’s copy in MiU-C), McCulloh argues against the theory that humans and animals both crossed from Asia to the Americas via the Bering Strait, proposing instead the hypothesis that “since the deluge, there was land of great extent in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans; no doubt much shattered and broken, yet not to such a degree as to hinder men and animals from roaming through the extended parts,” and that in time the inhabited islands that resulted after the waters of the biblical deluge receded remained secluded “until the spirit of navigation and modern enterprise once more united the links between them and their brother men” (p. 35).

Index Entries

  • Bible; deluge in search
  • books; on geography search
  • Euclid; mentioned search
  • geography; books on search
  • geography; TJ on search
  • Indians, American; origin of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); letter to search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. search
  • Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. (J. H. McCulloh) search