Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Manasseh Cutler, [11 February 1802]

From Manasseh Cutler

[11 Feb. 1802]

Mr. Cutler returns his most respectful compliments to the President of the United States, and begs him to accept his most grateful acknowledgements for the favour of a perusal of Dr. Lettsom’s Observations on the Cow-pock. This work, with its plates, has afforded him great pleasure. The philanthropy of the Doctr., in the exertions he is making, & in adding the weight of his character, to render Dr. Jenner’s invaluable discovery universally beneficial, does him much honour. Highly, indeed, must we estimate a discovery, which, by a process so easy & safe, bids fair to eradicate a disease which has been one of the greatest evils destined to man. So far as experiment is gone, the hope is encouraged that, in time, this most desirable object will be attained.

RC (MHi); undated; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Feb. and so recorded in SJL.

Manasseh Cutler (1742–1823), a minister, schoolteacher, congressman, and a native of Connecticut, lived in Ipswich Hamlet (now Hamilton), Massachusetts, since 1770. During the Revolutionary War, Cutler studied medicine and treated smallpox victims. He pursued other scientific interests after the war, particularly in botany, and was a member of several American learned societies, including the American Philosophical Society. Cutler, a Federalist, served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1801 to 1805. His journals and letters describe his life in Washington, including visits to the President’s House (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; William P. Cutler and Julia P. Cutler, Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D., 2 vols. [Cincinnati, 1888; repr. Athens, Ohio, 1987]).

Cutler recorded in a journal that on 8 Feb. he received from TJ, “with a very polite note,” a copy of John Coakley Lettsom’s Observations on the Cow-Pock (Cutler and Cutler, Life, 2:72).

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