Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Beckley, 16 July 1802

To John Beckley

July 16. 1802

Th: Jefferson with his compliments to mr Beckley informs him that he has this day given orders for the books for Congress according to the catalogue approved by the committee, that they will compose about 700. volumes of different sizes, and will probably require 4. presses of 4 feet width & the common height, or what will be equivalent to that if wider or narrower; which is mentioned for his government in providing presses.

Should mr Beckley make a visit to the Augusta springs, as his best route is by Charlottesville Th: Jefferson will be very happy to recieve him at Monticello and enjoy his company there as long as it may suit him to stay.

The route is to cross at Georgetown, & to go by Fairfax C. H. Songster’s, Brown’s tavern, Slaterun church, Elkrun church, Stevensburg, Downey’s ford, Orange court house, to mr Madison’s 93. miles, & then 27. miles to Monticello by the way of Milton which is the best road.

PrC (DLC); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

ORDERS FOR THE BOOKS: see TJ’s letters to William Duane, George Erving, and William Short, all of 16 July.

The CATALOGUE for the Library of Congress must have been APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE sometime between 14 April, when TJ sent a list of recommended books to the committee chairman Abraham Baldwin, and 16 July, when TJ began directing orders for book purchases (Vol. 37:227–33).

The portable bookcases or PRESSES were probably constructed of pine and were likely stained or painted. The books previously stored separately by the House and the Senate would be combined with the recently purchased books and “numbered, labelled and set up in portable cases with handles to them, for the purpose of easy removal, with wire-netting doors, and locks” (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled . . . by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 12:1292; Anne-Imelda Radice, “The Original Library of Congress: The History [1800–1814] of the Library of Congress in the United States Capitol,” in John Y. Cole, ed., The Library of Congress: A Documentary History [Bethesda, Md., 1987], 6–7; William Dawson Johnston, History of the Library of Congress, Volume 1: 1800–1864 [Washington, D.C., 1904], 25, 27).

VISIT TO THE AUGUSTA SPRINGS: beleaguered by debt, illness, and responsibilities for a large extended family, Beckley traveled to Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs,Virginia, for nine weeks beginning in September with hopes to restore his health (James Conaway, America’s Library: The Story of the Library of Congress [New Haven, 2000], 15; Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, John Beckley: Zealous Partisan in a Nation Divided [Philadelphia, 1973], 185–6, 188, 246–7).

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