Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Willson Peale, 22 June 1796

From Charles Willson Peale

Museum June 22d. 1796.

Dear Sir

The first object of my Life1 is the inrichment of my Museum, In this view, I mean to continue my labours of preserving Duplicates of American Subjects for the purpose of exchanging them for those of other Countries, altho’ I have been rather unfortunate in an attempt of this kind with Sweden—It is 6 years since I sent, by the recommendation of my friend Dr. Collin, some preserved Birds: This was repeated for 4 years but not a Single return has been made and I believe the Doctor is much hurt by this Negligence of his Countrymen.

I have it in my power to make an exchange of Animals generally—of Minerals a small number—but as to Vegetables I have not had time to pay much attention to them as yet; however by the help of Mr. Bartram and some others of my acquaintance in that line, The subjects wished for may be obtained. My third Son having the Talents of preserving the various Subjects of the Animal Kingdom, affords me considerable aid—from which I flatter myself that a reciprocal exchange will be made on our part.

I shall be happy if by my labours I can give Satisfaction where you are pleased to recommend me and accept my thanks for your obliging attention to the Interests of the Museum. I am with much respect and esteem Your friend

C. W. Peale

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 July 1796 and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in PPAmP: Peale-Sellers Papers); in Peale’s hand; misdated 22 June 1786; the most important variation is recorded in note 1 below. Dft (Lb in same); at foot of text: “To Mr. Jefferson Virginia.”

Peale had sent specimens to the Royal Academy of Science of Sweden in 1791. Similarly, ornithological specimens he sent to Louis of Parma early in 1799 did not result in any reciprocal exchange (Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and his Family, 4 vols. in 5 [New Haven, 1983–96], i, 612–13, ii, 149n, 236–8, 376n, 684; TJ to Louis of Parma, 25 Feb. 1799).

1Interlined here in FC: “which by no means excludes the Advantage of my family.”

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