Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Smith Barton, 26 October 1798

From Benjamin Smith Barton

Germantown, October 26th, 98.

Dear Sir,—

I have lately published a new edition of my New Views. I shall endeavour, by the first private conveyance, to forward to you a copy of it. It is very greatly enlarged. I am extremely anxious to pursue this subject much farther. I shall, therefore, be much obliged to you for the sight of your Vocabularies, when you shall come—to town. All mine are at your service. Will it not be possible to procure some words in the dialects of the Pamunkies, Màttaponies, and Nottoways, mentioned in your Notes? I find, by comparing the language of the Powhatans, that it is very nearly allied to the Delaware language.

I have, for some time, been employed upon an extensive work on the subject of Instinct.

I have the honour to be, with great respect, Dear Sir,

Your very humble & obliged friend, &c.

Benjamin Smith Barton.

Please to make my best respects to your two sons-in-law, Mr. Randolph & Mr. Eppes.—

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received on 16 Nov. 1798 and recorded in SJL as received from Philadelphia on that day.

The new edition of Barton’s New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America (Philadelphia, 1798) expanded the first edition, which the author had dedicated to TJ the previous year (see Book Dedication from Benjamin Smith Barton, 21 June 1797; 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 No. 33378). For TJ’s own assembling of vocabularies of Native American languages, see his letter to William Linn on 5 Feb. 1798. In Notes on the State of Virginia TJ referred to the drastically reduced numbers of pamunkies and other Virginia Indians (Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, Chapel Hill, 1955 description ends , 96–7).

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