Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Lyon, 22 October 1801

From James Lyon

Oct. 22d—

The assistance which Mr. Jefferson has rendered to the Washington Printing & Bookselling Company, is thankfully acknowledged. The Agent has the pleasure to enclose him the Constitution of the Company; a prospectus of a Magazine, and the first number of the work; together with a copy of a letter explanatory of the Plan for Branch Offices. One of these last will be addressed to some Gentlemen, in Lynchburg, as soon as the agent can be informed of a proper character there, to receive subscriptions; and if one hundred and fifty can be obtained an office with a man to manage it will be sent to that place

RC (DLC); written on verso of second sheet of printed broadside of the constitution of the Washington Printing and Bookselling Company dated 1 Aug. 1801; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Prospectus of the weekly National Magazine, or Cabinet of the United States and the biweekly Franklin; or, A Political, Agricultural and Mechanical Gazette, 17 Oct. 1801 (printed copy in same). (2) National Magazine, 22 Oct., the first issue of a publication that came out irregularly and was suspended with the 11 Jan. 1802 issue (Sowerby description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends , No. 4899). (3) blank printed subscription forms with terms and conditions for the Franklin Gazette and subscription form for a gazette or weekly paper, 17 Oct. (printed copy in DLC).

For the assistance TJ rendered to Lyon’s previous printing endeavors, see 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 , 2:1002, 1003; Vol. 32:305.

Lyon, as principal agent of the washington printing & Bookselling Company, superintended the business and subscriptions of the company as well as appointing agents in other parts of the country and serving on the board’s pecuniary committee. Richard Dinmore was the publication’s editor and served on the board’s literary committee. By 11 Sep., enough shares of stock had been raised so that Lyon and ten others were appointed to a board of directors that met to commence the publication (American Citizen and General Advertiser, 23 Sep. 1801; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 1612).

Lyon first presented his plan for branch offices, including one at Lynchburg, as well as a proposal for a weekly Washington paper in pamphlet form, in his letter to TJ of 23 July.

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