Thomas Jefferson Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Peale, Charles Willson" AND Recipient="Jefferson, Thomas" AND Period="Jefferson Presidency"
sorted by: editorial placement

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Willson Peale, 18 July 1803

From Charles Willson Peale

Museum July 18th. 1803.

Dear Sir

Yesterday General Proctor called on me with the enclosed Letter to make what use I pleased with it, only reserving him a copy, which I have done.

A knowledge of the upper part of the head, is indeed very desirable—The Cranium and Nasal bones particularly, as being wholly deficient in my Skeleton.

I marval what are the teeth which he says weighs 19 or 20 pounds, can they be grinders—The largest I have seen belongs to Doctr Wistar, its weight 10 pounds.

The ends of the toes is wanting in my Skeleton; in some few toes I have three Phalanges, generally two, but some with only one.—These being small bones, in consequence passed over, or not often sought for. However as opportunities occur I mean to collect what bones I can, at little expence, in hopes of making up the dificiencies of this skeleton, or at least to make immitations by the aid of the Chizel from those that may not fit from belonging to a larger or smaller animal.

I cannot with freedom give answers to the queries, as I shall be considered much interrested. The cost and labour in this article has been great to me, but I shall be repaid in the issue, I contrive to make one part pay for the other expences of the Museum, still encreasing the value & utility1 of the collection.

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 22 July and so recorded in SJL. PoC (PPAmP: Peale-Sellers Papers). Enclosure: William Goforth, Jr., at Cincinnati to Thomas Procter of Philadelphia, 18 June, reporting that he has “found the greatest part of the bones of the Mamouth and am pretty confident that I shall be shortly able to procure a complete Skeleton”; extracting the bones is costing him “great labour & considerable expence,” and he asks if it will be worth his while, if he does have a full skeleton, to transport it across the mountains for exhibition, or if he does not recover a full skeleton, whether exhibiting the bones he now has in his possession would pay back his expenditures; and he asks if there is any prospect of disposing of the bones or a complete skeleton in the seaboard cities or in Europe; the bones in his possession are “the upper part of the head and the under Jaws of the large Animal I have a large number of teeth from 19 or 20 pounds weight down to 4 or 5. one thigh bone weighing 31 pounds some ribs intire some broken the whole of the back bones one horn weighing about 100 pounds about twenty one Inches in Circumference & one horn about 5 feet long weighing 21 pounds and one other about Seven feet long” (DLC).

Goforth excavated the mammoth bones from Big Bone Lick in Kentucky; see Meriwether Lewis to TJ, 3 Oct.

1MS: “utily.”

Index Entries