Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Charles Willson Peale, 5 May 1802

To Charles Willson Peale

Washington May 5. 1802.

Dear Sir

I am this moment setting out on a short visit to Monticello, but a thought coming into my head which may be useful to your son who is carrying the Mammoth to Europe, I take time to hint it to you. my knolege of the scene he will be on enables me to suggest what might not occur to him a stranger. when in a great city, he will find persons of every degree of wealth. to jumble these all into a room together I know from experience is very painful to the decent part of them, who would be glad to see a thing often, & would not regard paying every time but that they1 revolt at being mixed with pickpockets, chimney sweeps &c. set three different divisions of the day therefore at three different prices, selecting for the highest when the beau-monde can most conveniently attend; the 2d. price when merchants and respectable citizens, have most leisure; & the residue for the lower descriptions. a few attending at the highest price will countervail many of the lowest and be more agreeable to themselves & to him. I hope and believe you will make a fortune by the exhibition of that one, and that when tired of shewing it you may sell it there for another fortune. no body wishes it more sincerely than I do. accept my assurances of this and of my great esteem.

Th: Jefferson

RC (TxU); at foot of text: “C. W. Peale esq.” PrC (DLC).

CARRYING THE MAMMOTH TO EUROPE: Rembrandt Peale and his younger brother Rubens had mounted a mastodon skeleton for public display in New York and intended to take the exhibition to Europe. They arrived in London with the skeleton in September (Paul Semonin, American Monster: How the Nation’s First Prehistoric Creature Became a Symbol of National Identity [New York, 2000], 330–3).

1TJ here canceled “cannot.”

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