Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Dunbar, [6] October 1799

From William Dunbar

4 [i.e. 6] October 1799. To Thomas Jefferson Virginia

I am honored by the receipt of yours of 24 June last. It is highly gratifying to be invited by a person of your high reputation in the republic of letters to contribute in conducting philosophical researches in this and the neighboring country—Constant occupation as a planter since my residence in this country has somewhat disqualified me for scientific pursuits—.&c xxx But shall take pleasure in pursuing such objects of enquiry as you may point out as worthy of the attention of your Society1

I keep a regular diary of the weather and the rise and fall of the Thermometer and Barometer the quantity of rain that falls with the direction & Strength of the wind &c of which I will forward you copies—… xx.

The natural history of this country so far as I have had an opportunity of visiting it will be found to vary very little from that of the same latitude in the Atlantic States: The forest trees are the same which generally grow from Virginia to Florida. The richest lands are covered with strong canes growing very close which excluding all other Vigetable subjects a few large trees excepted furnish no field for the Botanist—the open woods land and plains are more productive of variety but I believe little is to be found which has escaped the researches of the indefatigable deciples of Linæus.—

Tr (DLC: William Dunbar Lb); consisting of mid-19th-century extracts and notes by B. L. C. Wailes (see Charles S. Sydnor, “Historical Activities in Mississippi in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Southern History, 3 [1937], 141). Recorded in SJL as a letter of 6 Oct. received from Natchez on 30 Dec. 1799, and acknowledged by TJ as a letter of the 6th (see TJ to Dunbar, 16 Jan. 1800).

1The following note appears here in the same hand as the extracts: “Note the balance of this long letter and of others to Mr. Jefferson & some English Savans. relates to various matters such as to vocabularies of languages of the South Western Indian tribes—to a language of signs in use among them—to the use of a telescopic sight in fire arms—improvements in astronomical instruments &c &c which however interesting in themselves, are not partarticuly Connected with the early history of this Country its resources and agriculture & no further extracts will be made from them.”

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