Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Smith Barton, 5 September 1796

From Benjamin Smith Barton

Philadelphia, September 5th, 1796.


Sometime since, I wrote to you, in answer to the letter which you had written to my deceased uncle, Mr. Rittenhouse. At the same time, I did myself the pleasure to send to you a copy of my memoir, concerning the fascinating faculty which has been ascribed to different species of Serpents. As these went by a private hand, I am doubtful whether you have received them. In my letter, I requested that you would inform me to whom I should pay the money, which you kindly lent to me, a considerable time since. I have now to make the same request.

We are anxious to see your memoir concerning the bones which you mention to have been found in digging for nitre. I wish it could be sent soon, in which case it would be in time for the 4th vol. of the Transactions, now in press. I do not imagine that this volume can be closed in less than four weeks from this date. We are slow in our motions. I am, Sir, with the greatest respect, your most humble and obedient servant, &c.

Benjamin Smith Barton

P.S. Be so kind as to make my compliments to Mr. Randolph. I have lately discovered, in the vicinity of this city, a new species of Dipus, or Jerboa. It is a very beautiful animal. I call it Dipus Americanus, in vol. 4th of the Transactions.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 30 Sep. 1796 and so recorded in SJL.

Barton, who described the Dipus Americanus at a meeting of the American Philosophical Society on 2 Oct. 1795, published his report as “Some account of an American Species of Dipus, or Jerboa,” APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Transactions, iv (1799), 114–24. A variety of meadow jumping mouse, the animal was subsequently renamed Zapus hudsonius americanus (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, xxii, pt. 3 [1884], 234; E. Raymond Hall, The Mammals of North America, 2d ed., 2 vols. [New York, 1981], ii, 841–2).

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