Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Caspar Wistar to Thomas Jefferson, 29 June 1813

From Caspar Wistar

Philadelphia June 29th 1813

My Dear Sir

After a long interval I have great pleasure in writing to you on the present occasion. The Bearer, Correa da Serra, has a wish to See you, & all your friends here are desirous that he Should do So. He leaves this to morrow, for that purpose, & I am now to State to you my Reasons for wishing him to make the visit. He is a Gentleman of excellent understanding, greatly improved by education—He has passed many years, at different periods of his life, in Italy—Eight or nine in England, and nearly as many in France—in England he appears to have been on the most intimate footing with Sir Jos: Banks & his associates—& in France with the Gentlemen of the National Institute. He has improved So well these golden opportunities, that I believe we never have had in America any person who knew So much of the actual State of Science in Europe—My letters describe him as a most amiable man; & so he has appeared to be, during his residence of near a year & half with us.

This is warm eulogium, but my voucher Carries it—

I make a transition to a very different Subject—You have had great reason to be Surprized at finding no account of your, mammoth bones &c &c; yet published—I believe I have mentioned to you that I have long been engaged in Composing1 a System of Anatomy.—This work has required infinitely more time than I expected, & has occasioned me to part from every thing in which I was engaged, that would admit of delay—In two or three months it will be finished, & then I take up the Subject, & believe it will appear that there are among them2 two very interesting non descript heads—which must have belonged to Animals much larger than the Deer.

I take great interest in the subject last mentioned, but what follows is more interesting to the Heart—

Jefferson Randolph did not remain here long enough to receive complete & permanent impressions of any of the Subjects taught at this place—whether he is to travel in Europe, or to be fixed in America, it would be useful to have more exact and precise ideas—If you will Send him another winter, I will do every thing in my power to fix him in a proper family for the french, & to promote his progress in Such Studies as you think will be best for him—Your great kindness to me for more than twenty years, inspires me with a Sincere desire to promote your happiness by every means in my power, & this seems to be one of the best opportunities I can expect to have—

Mr Correa will tell you all the news I therefore only Say further, that

I am with undiminished gratitude and respect

Your much obliged friend

Caspar Wistar

RC (DLC); dateline adjacent to signature; at foot of text: “His Excellency Thos Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 July 1813 and recorded in SJL as delivered on that date by “Mr Correa de Serra.”

1Word interlined.

2Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • anatomy; study of search
  • Banks, Sir Joseph search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; conveys letters search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; letter of introduction for, from C. Wistar search
  • French language; study of search
  • Institut de France; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • mastodon (mammoth, Ohio); C. Wistar on search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); and C. Wistar search
  • Wistar, Caspar; anatomical studies of search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and mastodon bones search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and T. J. Randolph search
  • Wistar, Caspar; letters from search