Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Hugh Williamson, 8 December 1800

From Hugh Williamson

New York 8th Decr 1800.

Dear Sir

The inclosed account of the Temperature of the Air in Quebec was given me by a gentleman from that City who had little to do and amused himself with meteorological observations. The circumstance that induced me to copy this Part of the Journal was the remarkable coincidence of the coldest weather with the conjunction of the Sun & Moon during the 4 cold months. Has it been observed in other Years and in other Places that the weather is tempered in the least by the Light of the Moon, or that the Moon has any Effect on the Temperature of the Atmosphere? I do not know that the philosophical Society take any account of meteorological observations.

I propose in the course of this winter, if the rheumatism by which I am confined shall abate, to publish the History of N Carolina. I shall have occasion to speak of the Turkey as a dark coloured bird in America its native Country. This fact however, being opposed to the common Opinion, needs proof. You was informed as I think by a Mr Strickland that his family wear a Turkey for the Crest of their Arms. The Petition of their ancestor to the king for Permission to wear that crest, where is it found? Is it in the heralds Office? The head of the family I think is at present a Baronet. Do you know his first Name? I think he lives in Yorkshire.

When I shall have stated the facts will you give me leave to quote my authority? I am

With the utmost Consideration Your most obedt and very hble Servt

Hu Williamson

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Honble Thos Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Dec. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: “A Register of the Temperature of the Air in the City of Quebec in Canada as it was observed at Sun Rise from 1 Decr 1798 to 31 March 1799” (same; in Williamson’s hand).

Meteorological observations: Williamson later published Observations on the Climate in Different Parts of America (New York, 1811). His history of North Carolina did not appear in print until 1812 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

For the incorporation of the Turkey into the Strickland family’s crest, see Notes on Conversations with William Strickland, May 1795. The head of the family was William Strickland’s father, Sir George Strickland of Yorkshire (Vol. 28:371).

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