Thomas Jefferson Papers
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José Corrêa da Serra to Thomas Jefferson, 10 April 1814

From José Corrêa da Serra

Philadelphia 10 April. 1814


Mr Short tells me that you intend to give me an invitation to visit you at Monticello; for which i give you my sincere thanks, because no moments of Life can i consider more precious than those i would pass in your company. In the summer or in the fall i will attempt to profit of your Kindness. In the mean time as i am determined to visit Kentucky and the Ohio, an excursion which i presume will take about three months, i intend to begin it about the first of May, and enter Kentucky by Virginia, to return afterwards by Pittsburg. In this manner i shall be able by stopping a day at Charlottesville to pay once more my respects to you, and of presenting to you my compagnon de voyage Mr Walsh, whose name you know by its first productions, which were rather of another hemisphere, but there has been a gradual and great change in his ecliptic; as will naturally happen to every man, who is avant tout a good and sincere American. Such men easily find the high road, only by observing the deviations of party spirit, which are to well meaning persons equivalent to a demonstration ad absurdum

I dare entreat your favour for an object about which i feel the greatest curiosity. There grows in Louisiana a tree called by the French Bois d’arc, and by the Americans Bow wood. I am sure a word from you to Govr Claiborne can obtain for me a young branch of it or two, pressed in brown paper with their Leaves, and both the male and female flowers, also some of the fruit, either dry, or in a mixture wiskey, water, also in the proper season some ripe seeds. All this i will consider as a very great favour. I ta[ke] the Liberty of reminding you of the Louisiana springs being very early.

My three months residence in New England have afforded me occasion of studying both the sickness and the curative, you will best judge when i meet you; if my view of the matter is correct. I expect i will be so happy as to find Col. Randolph at Monticello, but wherever he may be, my most sincere respect and good wishes are for him.

I am Sir with the highest consideration

Your most faithful obedient servt

Joseph Corrèa de Serra

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; edge chipped; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Apr. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

Corrêa da Serra’s compagnon de voyage (“traveling companion”) was Robert Walsh, whose first productions included several works on Europe and on American foreign affairs (M. Frederick Lochemes, Robert Walsh: His Story [1941], 229–30). avant tout: “above all.” ad absurdum: “to absurdity.” The Osage orange tree is also known as the bois d’arc or bow wood because of its use by Native Americans in making bows (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

Index Entries

  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; plants requested from search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and Osage orange search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and T. M. Randolph search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and W. Short search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; letters from search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; proposed visit of search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; U.S. travels of search
  • Osage orange (bow-wood) search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Short, William; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Walsh, Robert; proposed visit of search
  • Walsh, Robert; travels with J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Walsh, Robert; writings of search