Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson, 14 July 1785

To Charles Thomson

Paris July 14. 1785.

Dear Sir

By Mr. Houdon I send you a copy of my notes. I also send 100 copies of the paper I left with you on our coinage. Printing is so cheap here (they cost me but a guinea) that I thought it worth while to print as many copies as would enable you to put one into the hands of every member of Congress when they should enter on the subject, and to do the same at any succeeding session when they should resume it, as I do not expect it will be taken up and finished at the same session, in which case there might be a great change of members. It will not be necessary for you to say they come from me. They may as well be supposed to be printed on the spot and of course in the ordinary way, which will be their presumption if nothing be said about it. Mr. Houdon comes to take the likeness in plaister of General Washington. He is the first statuary of the age. His eminence, his worth, and his errand will recommend him to your notice. I am Dr. Sir Your friend & servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Thomson Papers, ii); endorsed: “Mr. Jefferson’s letters 21 June & 14 July 1785 answered Novr. 2. 1785.” Entry in SJL reads: “Chas. Thomson. By Houdon with a copy of my Notes and 100 copies of those on coinage.”

For an account of TJ’s separately printed Notes on Coinage, see Document iv printed above at end of Apr. 1784. The decision to adopt the dollar as the money unit and to apply decimal reckoning to the money system was made by Congress only a few days before this letter was written (6 July 1785; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xxix, 499–500). The copy of Notes on Virginia sent to Thomson in Houdon’s care is in CSmH.

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