Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, 7 January 1793

To David Rittenhouse

Jan. 7. 1793.

Th: Jefferson, beginning to pack his useless furniture, finds nothing more so than the article he now sends to Mr. Rittenhouse. He wishes he could propose it to his acceptance for a better reason: but if two bad reasons will make one good one, to that of the uselessness of the thing he will add (what will be equally useless to him) the sincere affection of the giver; as a testimony of which he desires Mr. Rittenhouse to give it house-room.

PrC (DLC); addressed: “Mr. Rittenhouse.” Tr (DLC); 19th-century copy.

The article sent by TJ was undoubtedly one of the plaster busts of himself executed by Houdon, which TJ had purchased in 1789. The bust remained in the Rittenhouse family until 1811 when Elizabeth Rittenhouse Sergeant donated it to the American Philosophical Society, which had it bronzed and placed on exhibit (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, forthcoming as part of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 3 July 1789; Alfred L. Bush, The Life Portraits of Thomas Jefferson, rev. ed. [Charlottesville, 1987], 11–14; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, xxii, pt. 3 [1885], 427, 430; Fiske Kimball, “The Life Portraits of Jefferson and their Replicas,” same, lxxxviii [1944], 505–7, with illustration; Brooke Hindle, David Rittenhouse [Princeton, 1964], 336).

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