Thomas Jefferson Papers
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James Freeman to Thomas Jefferson, 2 October 1816

From James Freeman

Octo. 2. 1816.

Mr Freeman of Boston has visited Monticello, that he might have the honour of seeing Mr Jefferson, and of enjoying the high pleasure of hearing him converse; and he regrets that his professional duties as a clergyman compel him to quit his hospitable mansion without indulging himself in the delight, which has long been the object of his ardent desire. He tenders his best respects to Mr Jefferson, and wishes him much health and happiness.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Freeman James. revd,” written at Monticello and received 5 Oct. 1816, and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Patrick Gibson, 28 Dec. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Mr Jefferson.”

James Freeman (1759–1835), Unitarian minister, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University in 1777. He joined King’s Chapel, an Anglican church in Boston, as a reader in 1782 and promoted the revision of its prayer book and adoption of Unitarianism over the next several years. Although Freeman’s rejection of the Trinity prevented him from being ordained by the Episcopal Church, he received a lay ordination from his congregation in 1787. He remained the pastor of King’s Chapel until 1826, when he retired for health reasons. During his long career Freeman was a member of the local school committee and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he represented Boston at the state constitutional convention of 1820–21. He was also a founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society and served as its recording secretary, 1793–1812. Freeman died in Newton, Massachusetts (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 171; The Act of Incorporation, Bye-Laws, Catalogue of Members, and Circular Letter of the Massachusetts Historical Society [Boston, 1813], 9, 13; Journal of Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of Delegates, chosen to revise the Constitution of Massachusetts [Boston, 1821]; New-Bedford Mercury, 20 Nov. 1835; gravestone inscription at East Parish Burying Ground, Newton).

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