Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Gantt, 17 August 1801

From Edward Gantt

George Town August 17th. 1801.


When I last saw you, I informed you that I had succeeded in communicating the vaccine Pox to one of my Patients. The Day after, I found the Inflammation had entirely disappeared, & that the Matter had in every Instance proved inactive. I hope the Gentleman who inoculated your Family has been successful, and that we may get supplied with recent Matter from him. I daily expect some from New-York—Should the Matter you have received from Doctor Waterhouse prove as inert, as those Portions of it which you was so obliging to furnish me with; and the Matter I receive from New York prove efficient, I will take the earliest opportunity of furnishing you with it recent. Your Family in Washington were all well, at twelve OClock this day. I am Sir,

with sincere Respect your much obliged & most obedt. Servt.

Edward Gantt

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 20 Aug. and so recorded in SJL.

Edward Gantt (c. 1741–1837), a native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, was the attending physician at the President’s House from 1801 to about 1806, when he moved to Kentucky. A graduate of the College of New Jersey, Gantt obtained medical training at the University of Edinburgh and a medical degree at the University of Leiden. Gantt worked with TJ to introduce smallpox vaccination in Washington (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1118–9, 1144; Papenfuse, Maryland Legislature description begins Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, Gregory A. Stiverson, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789, Baltimore, 1979–85, 2 vols. description ends , 1:342; McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768 description begins James McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768: A Biographical Dictionary, Princeton, 1976 description ends , 377–8; Washington, Papers, Ret. Ser. description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, Theodore J. Crackel, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, Charlottesville, 1983–, 48 vols.: Retirement Series, 1998–99, 4 vols. description ends , 2:569; Madison, Papers, Pres. Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1984–, 5 vols. description ends , 4:196).

Gentleman who inoculated your family: William Wardlaw.

Gantt may have been expecting smallpox vaccine (cowpox) from A. Bainbridge, who on 20 Aug. wrote to TJ from New York, hoping that TJ would pardon the liberty he took in writing to him. It was “at the request of my old intimate friend, Doctor Edward Gantt—the inclosed letter to him contains some of the Vaccine matter—he says the most certain conveyance will be to inclose it to you, and you would send it to him” (RC in MHi; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Sep. and so recorded in SJL; enclosure not found.) The author was probably Absalom Bainbridge, a classmate of Gantt’s at college and a physician in New York (McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768 description begins James McLachlan, Princetonians, 1748–1768: A Biographical Dictionary, Princeton, 1976 description ends , 367, 372–5; Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, for the twenty-sixth year of American Independence [New York, 1801], 111).

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