Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Longworth, 5 February 1798

To David Longworth

Philadelphia Feb. 5. 98.


I received while in Virginia your obliging letter with the 1st number of your new edition of Telemachus, and deferred answering it till I should come to this place. I came here later than should have been and have been prevented by other business from acknowleging your letter till now. I shall be glad to become a subscriber for a couple of copies, to be delivered bound when the whole work is finished. it is really a fine specimen of the typographical art, and would do honor to the presses of Europe where it has been so much longer exercised. the price shall be paid either here or in New York as you shall be pleased to direct. I am Sir

Your very humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (George W. Grill, Chicago, 1950); addressed: “Mr. David Longworth No. 66. Nassau street New York”; franked and postmarked.

In 1796 David Longworth (ca. 1765–1821) published the first number of Longworth’s American Almanack, a New York City directory that appeared annually thereafter and became the staple of his business, which also included the sale of books and prints at an establishment he came to denote the Shakespeare Gallery. Initially using T. and J. Swords as printers, by 1800 he acquired his own press. He published and perhaps contributed to Salmagundi, an enormously popular collection of social satire written pseudonymously by Washington Irving, William Irving, and James Kirke Paulding, which first appeared as a periodical during 1807–8. The work’s authors and publisher later had a falling out over distribution of the proceeds, Longworth having taken out a copyright on the work after Irving and the others rejected his suggestion that they do so. Beginning in 1802 Longworth played a significant role in the publication and sale of theatrical works, including those of American playwrights (Jacob Blanck, “Salmagundi and Its Publisher,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 41 [1947], 1–12; Roger E. Stoddard, “A Catalogue of the Dramatic Imprints of David and Thomas Longworth, 1802–1821,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 84 [1974], 317–18; Stoddard, “Notes on American Play Publishing, 1765–1865,” same, 81 [1971], 173–7).

Longworth’s obliging letter of 21 Aug. 1797, which according to SJL TJ received from 66 Nassau St. in New York on 1 Sep. 1797, has not been found. your new edition of telemachus: Longworth published a two-volume edition of The Adventures of Telemachus Son of Ulysses (New York, 1796–97), an English translation of a work by François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon, first published in 1700, which presented a classical tale in the context of a political novel. TJ, who acquired at least three other versions of the story, did not record the Longworth edition in his library catalogues (Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from … 1639 … to … 1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59, 14 vols. description ends Nos. 30414, 32126; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends Nos. 4305–7).

Index Entries