Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Harrison Smith, 24 June 1800

To Samuel Harrison Smith

Monticello June 24. 1800.

Dear Sir

The inclosed communication from Dr. Mitchell to the Philosophical society was under cover of a letter to me dated at New York on the day I left Philadelphia. as I did not come directly home, it was but lately it came to my hands. I now inclose it to be laid before the society. I am with great esteem & respect Dr. Sir

Your most obedt. servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: J. Henley Smith Papers); addressed: “Samuel H. Smith one of the Secretaries of the Philosophical society Philadelphia. Chesnut street between 3d. & 4th”; franked; postmarked Milton, 28 June. Enclosure: Samuel Latham Mitchill, “Observations on that vitiated condition of the atmosphere …” (see TJ to Mitchill, 13 June 1800).

Samuel Harrison Smith (1772–1845), a native of Philadelphia, earned degrees at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a printer and newspaper publisher. He published and edited the New World, 1796–97, and then the Universal Gazette. Elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in January 1797, that year he entered an essay in an APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends competition on the subject of education and shared the first prize. He published his submission as Remarks on Education: Illustrating the Close Connection between Virtue and Wisdom, To Which is Annexed, a System of Liberal Education (Philadelphia, 1798). The society elected him to be one of its four secretaries in January 1798 and in each of the succeeding two years. In 1800 he married his cousin, Margaret Bayard, and, at TJ’s urging and in expectation of a change in the presidency, moved the Gazette to Washington, where at the end of October it appeared as the National Intelligencer. During TJ’s presidency Smith received lucrative government printing contracts and his newspaper’s reports of debates in Congress, some taken down in shorthand by the editor himself, became the means by which much of the nation learned of congressional proceedings. Smith retired from the Intelligencer in 1810 and was a bank officer, serving briefly as secretary of the Treasury in 1814 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, 22, pt. 3 [1884], 246, 264–6, 277, 290).

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