From William Bentley
Salem 17 June 1802
I take the liberty of inclosing the Letter of Mr Bowditch & the demonstrations of this ingenious young man, who has lately published an American Navigator, of deservedly high reputation. The Letter will explain itself, & my apology must be, a desire to declare that with the highest respect for your public & private character,
I am your most obedient, humble Sert
RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States of America President of the Phil: Academy of Arts & Sciences, Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 June and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Nathaniel Bowditch to TJ, 11 June 1802, recorded in SJL as received from Salem on 24 June but not found. Other enclosure not found.
William Bentley (1759–1819), the minister of a Congregational church in Salem, Massachusetts, was interested in a wide range of scholarly subjects. A graduate of Harvard College, he assembled a large private library and mastered several languages. He also wrote regular news summaries and commentaries on intellectual developments for a Salem newspaper. Bentley’s religious views were considered to be progressive, and in politics he was a dedicated supporter of TJ and Democratic Republicanism (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).
AMERICAN NAVIGATOR: Nathaniel Bowditch of Salem, who had limited formal schooling, had taught himself algebra, calculus, Latin, and French while working as a clerk for firms involved in overseas commerce. He prepared an American edition of a popular British manual, The Practical Navigator of John Hamilton Moore, calling it The New Practical Navigator (Newburyport, Mass., 1799). After making extensive revisions and corrections to the work, Bowditch brought it out under his own name with the title The New American Practical Navigator (Newburyport, Mass., 1802). Bowditch was 29 years old in 1802 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).