Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington Greene, 2 February 1793

To George Washington Greene

Philadelphia Feb. 2. 1793.

Dear Sir

Mr. Peale the bearer of this letter proposing to go to Georgia to collect curiosities in Natural history, for his father’s Museum, now become considerable and worthy of encouragement, I take the liberty of recommending himself and his object to you. If I did not mistake symptoms in an early part of your life, your dispositions and your attention to these subjects will be in his favor.

Permit me to take this opportunity of congratulating you on your return to America, and to hope that neither the time you have been abroad, nor the scenes which have past under your eye will have lessened your attachment to your own country nor to those principles on which it’s present government is founded. It is no small consolation to see those just entering on a stage from which we are about to withdraw, bring into public life dispositions for improving and completing that system of public happiness to which their predecessors have devoted their lives. I am with very sincere wishes for your success and happiness, my dear Sir, Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); torn at foot of text: “Mr. Geo[rge W. Gr]eene.” Tr (DLC); 19th-century copy.

George Washington Greene (ca. 1776–93) was the first child of the deceased Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene and the godson of President Washington. Although Washington had expressed an interest in educating Greene, his parents accepted instead a similar offer from the Marquis de Lafayette. Greene journeyed to France in 1789 and returned to Georgia early in 1793, where shortly afterwards he drowned in the Savannah River (Richard K. Showman and others, eds., The Papers of General Nathanael Greene, 5 vols. [Chapel Hill, 1976– ], i, 188n; Francis Vinton Greene, General Greene [New York, 1893], 302; John F. Stegeman and Janet A. Stegeman, Caty: A Biography of Catharine Littlefield Greene [Athens, Ga., 1985], 161–2). Raphaelle Peale, the bearer of this letter and the eldest son of Charles Willson Peale, did not return from his trip to Georgia to collect specimens for his father’s natural history museum in Philadelphia until the fall of 1793 (Charles Coleman Sellers, Charles Willson Peale, 2 vols. [Philadelphia, 1947], ii, 42, 53–4).

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