Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Charles Willson Peale, 24 July 1801

From Charles Willson Peale

Museum July 24th. 1801.

Dear Sir

Believing you would be pleased in knowing my success in a trip up the north river, by the purchase of the Bones in the possession of Mr. Mastens. Although an object of great importance to me, in undertaking the journey I had very faint prospects of the issue. On my return to New York elated with the hopes of seeing the Skeleton of the Mamoth put togather, I hastily wrote to inform you of my good fortune.

The abuse these bones had meet with by the rash methods which the farmers took to drag them up from the Morass, will cause me an infinite deal of labour to connect the pieces togather. Although I have got the greater part, there are some essential pieces yet wanting, which Doctr Wistar & several members of the Philosophical Society urge me to procure, hastening to the spot and posponing my labours of joining the Bones togather. The Society will hold a special meeting this evening, with the intention of lending me 500 Drs. to enable me to meet the expences, which cannot be small, as the place where the bones lay, is now filled with water—and the means I wish to make use of will be very different from that practiced by the farmers—Having powerful Pumps will greatly facilitate the process, and an Idea has been suggested to me by Mr. Meredith, that you would give an order for me to obtain the loan of a patent pump from one of the frigates here or at New York for so short a time as I should want it.   I must make a large dike to keep out the Water from the springs which probably are numerous in the morass. The expence of which with takles independant of the hire of Labourers will amount to a considerable Sum, therefore it becomes an object with me to save the expence of purchasing pumps. A speedy answer to my request will very much oblige your friend & Humble Servt.

C W Peale.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 25 July and so recorded in SJL.

At the special meeting called by two vice presidents, the American Philosophical Society unanimously approved a resolution that granted Peale $500 for four months without interest. Twenty-six people including Peale—a large group for an APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends gathering at that time—attended the meeting. The society appointed Robert Patterson, Peter S. Du Ponceau, and the society’s treasurer, John Vaughan, to oversee the loan. Peale subsequently gave a bond and a mortgage on property in Philadelphia as security (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, 22, pt. 3 [1884], 313–14).

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