Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Ledyard, 29 [March] 1798

From Isaac Ledyard

NYork 29th. Apl. [i.e., Mch.] 1798


After waiting a long time for further materials, the Travels of my kinsman are now prepared for the Press. The honor which you did me to hand me his Letters to you for publication, & the great respect with which he speaks of you in other Letters of this Compilation, make all the direct authority I have to transmit herewith several Subscription Proposals with the hope that it may be convenient to you to direct some of them to proper persons in the Southern States

Altho: this publication has been loudly called for from almost every part of the Union, yet as (from the infant state of the taste &1 literature in America) no worthy Edition has yet paid the Author or Compiler, I am obliged to take security in a Subscription against too inconvenient a loss

You see Sir I take the liberty to address you as a philosopher & literary man, not as Vice President of the United States, fully persuaded that were you in the highest Trust which those States can give, & which has been the ardent wish of the virtuous & undeluded, these qualities would still maintain thier undiminished estimation in your mind, On them I rely for pardon for this confident intrusion and beg leave further to subscribe it with the utmost Respect & Esteem

Sir Your Obedt. & very humble Servt.

Isaac Ledyard

RC (CSmH); at foot of text: “Thos. Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Apr. 1798, where he noted also that the date of the letter “should be Mar. 29,” recording it similarly in SJL.

Isaac Ledyard (1754–1803), a doctor, sought to gather papers documenting the adventurous global travels of his cousin, John Ledyard, who had died in Cairo in 1789. Philip Freneau expected to publish the work, issuing anticipatory notices in September 1797 and August 1798, but Ledyard, concluding that he had assembled too thin a record of his cousin’s life, abandoned the effort. Later Jared Sparks drew on the materials to produce a biography of John Ledyard (Stephen D. Watrous, ed., John Ledyard’s Journey Through Russia and Siberia, 1787–1788: The Journal and Selected Letters [Madison, 1966], 4, 30, 82–4; Jared Sparks, The Life of John Ledyard, the American Traveller; Comprising Selections from his Journals and Correspondence [Cambridge, Mass., 1828], v).

1Ledyard here canceled “science.”

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