Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, [21 March 1791]

To David Rittenhouse

Monday morng. [21 Mch. 1791]

Th: Jefferson sends to Mr. Rittenhouse Bp. Watson’s essay on the subjects of chemistry, which is too philosophical not to merit a half an hour of his time, which is all it will occupy. He returns him Mr. Barton’s papers which he has perused with great pleasure. He is glad the subject has been taken up and by so good a hand. He has certainly done all which the scantiness of his materials would admit.—If Mr. Rittenhouse has done with the last Numero of the Journal de physique sent him by Th: J he will be glad to recieve it, in order to forward it on to Mr. Randolph. If not done with it there is no hurry.

RC (PPAP); addressed: “Mr. Rittenhouse”; not recorded in SJL. Date established conjecturally on the assumption that, in response to TJ’s letter of 19 Mch. 1791, Rittenhouse may have sent him the text of Barton’s paper before the American Philosophical Society which he had missed (TJ to Rittenhouse, 19 Mch. 1791).

The particular essay by Richard Watson (1737–1816), bishop of Llandaff, that TJ sent with this note has not been identified. TJ possessed Watson’s Chemical essays, having the 3rd. edn. of volumes i-iii and the 1st edn. of volumes iv and v (London, 1784–7; see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 838).

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