Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Benjamin Smith Barton to Thomas Jefferson, 16 October 1810

From Benjamin Smith Barton

Oct. 16. 1810.

Dear Sir,

I have received your kind letter, with the seeds & Mr Vater’s book. I beg you to accept of my thanks for your attention. Mr Vater, I find, has made very free use of my publication on the American languages, but not, indeed, without acknowledgment, in several instances. I have not time at present, to study his book. I think, Sir, we should not be too liberal in sending our collections of vocabularies abroad: I mean, before we shall have published them in America.

In regard to Mr Lewis’s papers, I assure you, and I beg you, Sir, to assure his freinds, that they shall be taken good care of; that it is my sincere wish to turn them, as much as I can, to his honour & reputation; and that they shall ultimately be deposited, in good order, in the hands of General Clark, or those of Mr Conrad, the publisher. During the Governor’s last visit to Philadelphia, there was some difference between him & me; originating wholly in the illiberal and jealous conduct of some of my enemies here, who laboured, not without some effect, to excite1 uneasiness in his mind, as to my friendship2 for him.—I cherish, with respect, the memory of your friend; and believe me, Sir, the manner in which you speak of him, in your letter, will act not feebly in making me careful of his fame. His fate was, indeed, melancholy and unhappy: but similar has sometimes been the fate of the best and the wisest of men.

I have now, Sir, to make a request of you, the granting of which would most essentially serve me. In a letter which I wrote to Mr Randolph, some weeks since, I informed him, that I was busily employed in printing my inquiries concern’g the plants of our country, and especially, indeed, concern’g the plants of Virginia. A portion, not inconsiderable, of my labours, will appear before the public early in the spring. My references are numerous to authors, for synonimia, &c. I find the work of Persoon3 very valuable, and have now in my possession a copy of it, belonging to the Revd Mr Muhlenberg, of Lancaster: but as this gentleman is also engaged assiduously in botanical inquiries, I have given him a promise, that the work shall be returned to him Early in November, next. I know of no other copy in the country, that at Monticello excepted. If you can lend me your copy, I pledge my honour to return it to you, in good order, early in April next; and probably much earlier: for I have written to Europe for the work, and am not without hopes of receiving it, as my own, before the setting in of the winter—should you be able to share the work, it might be sent by some of the young men who will leave your vicinity for the lectures: or in any other way you please. Be assured of my utmost attention to the4 books.

Permit me to request you to present my respects to Mr & Mrs Randolph & family, and be assured of the sincere & high regard with which I am,

Dear Sir, Your obliged friend, &c.,

B. S. Barton.

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; addressed: “Mr Jefferson, Monticello, near Milton, Albemarle, Virginia”; franked; endorsed by TJ as received 21 Oct. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

synonimia: synonymy. TJ received Christiaan Hendrik Persoon’s work entitled Synopsis Plantarum, seu Enchiridium Botanicum, 2 vols. (Paris, 1805–07; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1073; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 6 [no. 277]), in 1808 (Persoon to TJ, 15 Dec. 1807 [ViW: TC-JP]).

1Barton here canceled “some.”

2Manuscript: “friendhip.”

3Word canceled and rewritten for clarity, possibly in a different hand.

4Barton here canceled “works.”

Index Entries

  • Arikara bean search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; and history of Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; and J. S. Vater’s work search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; botany work search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; letters from search
  • beans; Arikara search
  • books; on botany search
  • books; on plants search
  • botany; books on search
  • Clark (Clarke), William; as M. Lewis’s executor search
  • Conrad, C. & A., and Company (Philadelphia firm); and journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • food; salsify search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; and publication of journals search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; executor of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; seeds brought by from the West search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; history of search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; plants from search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; seeds from search
  • Muhlenberg, Henry (Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst); as botanist search
  • Persoon, Christiaan Hendrik; Synopsis Plantarum, seu Enchiridium Botanicum search
  • plants; books on search
  • plants; specimens from Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); botanical skills of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • salsify, Missouri (wild salsify) search
  • Synopsis Plantarum, seu Enchiridium Botanicum (C. H. Persoon) search
  • Untersuchungen über Amerika’s Bevölkerung aus dem alten Kontinente (Vater) search
  • Vater, Johann Severin; Untersuchungen über Amerika’s Bevölkerung aus dem alten Kontinente search