Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Willson Peale, 2 September 1803

From Charles Willson Peale

Museum Sepr. 2d. 1803.

Dear Sir

I have just received the enclosed Pamphlet with Letters from my Sons—they closed their Exhibition of the Skeleton of the Mammoth the 18th. of June, and with every exertion have not been able to pay all their expences in London, are gone to Reading, 40 miles distant from London, The Mayor had been so obliging as give them the use of the Common Counsel Hall; prepairing to put up the Skeleton when they wrote, The Inhabitants of Reading are mostly Quakers & Methodists, about 10,000—but being averse to the encouragement of Theatrical entertainments, it is probable, Rembrandt says, that they will be more likely to encourage his exhibition, and he hopes to get a sufficiency to wipe some small debts he left unpaid in London, and transport the Skeleton to Bath. He will also try to make something by his Pensel, as there are no Painters in that Nieghbourhood.

My Son Rubens has sent me 3 Cases of subjects of Natural History—I have not yet got them from the Ship, (Pigou) just arrived at the Warf. every thing he sends me, must be valuable, as filling up the casms of my Museum; making the Collection more complete.

The Inhabitants of Philadelphia are blessed of Health1 this season. please to accept the profile Bonneparte’s brother, taken in the Museum this morning—I am Dear Sir with much esteem your friend

C W Peale.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “His Excellency Thos. Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received on 7 Sep. and so recorded in SJL. PoC (PPAmP: Peale-Sellers Papers). Enclosure: Rembrandt Peale, An Historical Disquisition on the Mammoth, or, Great American Incognitum, an Extinct, Immense, Carnivorous Animal, Whose Fossil Remains Have Been Found in North America (London, 1803); Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, New Haven, 1983-2000, 5 vols. in 6 description ends , v. 2, pt. 1:543-81; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952-59, 5 vols. description ends No. 1047.

Peale’s sons had both written to him on 14 July from Reading, England. In return for the aid provided by the mayor, Lancelot Austwick, Rembrandt Peale undertook to paint a portrait of the mayor’s son. Because there were no painters in the vicinity, he hoped that the picture of the mayor’s son would stimulate “some of the Noblemen & Gentry” of the area to give him commissions (Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, New Haven, 1983-2000, 5 vols. in 6 description ends , v. 2, pt. 1:586n, 601).

rubens Peale had taken specimens of American birds to England to exchange for natural history objects. He sent home two cases of birds he had obtained and one case holding a collection of insects—“English German, Hungarian and Indian.” The ship pigou arrived at Philadelphia from London on 1 Sep., stopping at the quarantine station, the Lazaretto, before proceeding to the city’s waterfront. The cases, however, were not aboard the vessel and could not be accounted for (same, 486, 529, 530n, 584, 602; Philadelphia Evening Post, 3 Sep.).

bonneparte’s brother: the physiognotrace silhouette of Jerome Bonaparte has not been located. Also on his visit to Peale’s museum, Bonaparte became interested in the polygraph and decided to obtain one of the writing machines (Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, New Haven, 1983-2000, 5 vols. in 6 description ends , v. 2, pt. 1:602).

1MS: “Heath.”

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