Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Adams, 11 December [1799]

From Samuel Adams

Boston Decem’r 11 1800 [i.e. 1799]

Dear Sir

I am very loth to trespass upon your precious time; but shall be happy with your leave to introduce to your notice the young Gentleman who takes the charge of this letter. It is his own request. He descended from that illustrious man Governor Winthrop the leader of our first rennoned ancestors; leaving what was called in those days a handsome fortune that he might plant the seeds of religion knowledge & liberty in this, as they then termed it, outside of the world. His descendants have sustained hitherto his principles & manners. The grandfather of this youth was John Winthrop Esqr; the learned professor of mathematicks and natural philosophy at Harvard Colege & a fellow of the royal society in England—

The youth, I now recommend, though but 22 years of [age] has been a considerable traveller in Europe. If you can spare a few moments of your important hours to countenance & instruct him, you will very much gratify—

Your sincere & affectionate fellow citizen

Saml Adams

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 108:18484–5); in unknown hand, signed by Adams; with day and year in dateline perhaps added at a later time; damaged; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson vice president of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of “Dec. 11. 1800” but recorded in SJL as received 23 Mch. 1800.

The young gentleman introduced by Adams was John Winthrop (1778–1819), a seventh-generation Winthrop in America. He graduated from Harvard in 1796 and spent the next few years as a traveller in Europe. His father John Winthrop, a Boston merchant, was reportedly a Jeffersonian. Professor John Winthrop, his grandfather, became a member of the Royal Society of London in 1766 and a member of the American Philosophical Society two years later (Lawrence Shaw Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America [Boston, 1948], 167, 184, 225–9, 352-5; APS, description begins American Philosophical Society description ends Proceedings, 22, pt. 3 [1884], 4, 8).

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