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Horatio G. Spafford to Thomas Jefferson, 24 February 1815

From Horatio G. Spafford

Albany, 2 Mo. 24, 1815.

Esteemed Friend—

My attention is called, by an old man of about 70 years, to a wish of his that 2 volumes of his writings may be submitted to thy examination. Doct. Williams has written the History of Vermont, in 2 8vo. volumes, & very naturally thinks that he has written very well. He is anxious to learn thy opinion of that Work; or at least to have it read by thee. The Doctor writes & thinks & feels like an American; a ‘Sect’ of which he esteems thee a principal patron! The Work sells at 5 dolls., but I am directed to send thee a Copy from the Author, who by-the-by is a very poor old man. If thou hast not read his Work, please inform me. The Doctor was my early Preceptor; & he was the Preceptor and generous friend of Benjamin Thompson, whom he educated at his own expense. If I am correctly informed, (for the Doct. will not say much about it,) Count Rumford was very ungrateful to his patron. The Doct. was formerly Professor of Math. et Nat. Philosophy in the university1 of Cambridge, Massachusetts, & always2 a distinguished Republican. Benj. Thompson, by becoming a Royalist, was Knighted in England, & became in time Count Rumford; but all the while neglected to reward the Man who, from a poor dependant orphan, had raised his promising talents in youth to notice, & taught him to become a man. I have just announced to the Society of Arts, my intention to write the Count’s Life, & it seems to be well received. I studied under the Doctor’s instruction, & well know his reverence & respect for thee. I hope my former Letters have duly reached thee, & that thou wilt excuse my troubling thee so often. With much respect,

H. G. Spafford.

The return of peace, seems to please almost every body here, & we will soon forget the evils that we complained of in the time of War.

RC (MHi); postscript written perpendicularly in left margin; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Mar. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. RC (ViU: TJP-ER); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, 31 Mar. 1815, on verso; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson, LL.D., Monticello, Virginia”; franked; postmarked Albany, 24 Feb.

Samuel williams was the author of The Natural and Civil History of Vermont (Walpole, N.H., 1794; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 457; 2d ed., Burlington, Vt., 1809, 2 vols.). He was on the Harvard University faculty, 1780–88 (Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 132). et: “and.” By the society of arts, Spafford probably means New York’s Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts, of which he had been an officer since 1813 (Transactions of the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts, in the State of New-York 3 [1814]: n.p.; 4, pt.1 [1816]: n.p.).

1Manuscript: “univesity.”

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • books; on history search
  • Harvard University; S. Williams’s professorship at search
  • Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, Count; proposed biography of search
  • Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, Count; S. Williams as patron of search
  • schools and colleges; Harvard University search
  • Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New-York; and H. G. Spafford search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and S. Williams search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New-York search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and War of1812 search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters from search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; proposes biography of Count Rumford search
  • The Natural and Civil History of Vermont (S. Williams) search
  • Vermont; history of search
  • Williams, Samuel (1743–1817); age of search
  • Williams, Samuel (1743–1817); as educator search
  • Williams, Samuel (1743–1817); as patron of Count Rumford search
  • Williams, Samuel (1743–1817); The Natural and Civil History of Vermont search