Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Gemmil, 25 August 1802

From John Gemmil

Staunton 25th Augt. 1802

It was, Sir, my desire & intention to deliver the enclosed with my own hand, But, by a fall from my carriage, in returning from the sweet Spring I received a sprain in my ankle which disables me from walking a step, & renders the jolting of the carriage, in a high degree, painful. To avoid the South mountain I must, therefore, pursue the valley route by Winchester to New Haven. Not knowing but the letter from Governour Mc.Kean may contain more than an introduction of myself I esteem it my duty to forward it. And I take the liberty of expressing my regret that my accident should preclude from an interview & some personal acquaintance with the President of the United States, one who, with the highest veneration and most affectionate esteem for your character; connects the most fervent desire for a long continuance of your excellent administration, & for your happiness here and hereafter.

John Gemmil

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “The President, U.S—”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

John Gemmil (1759–1814) was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After being ordained a Presbyterian minister, he served as pastor of a church in Chester County near Philadelphia. In 1798, he took charge of a Presbyterian church in New Haven, Connecticut. Initially popular, he later fell into disfavor, perhaps over his pro-Republican activities, and was dismissed in November 1802. Returning to Pennsylvania, he achieved some renown for an open letter to Thomas Paine that appeared in newspapers throughout the country and was later included in the 1803 pamphlet, Paine versus Religion; or, Christianity Triumphant. Containing the Interesting Letters of Sam. Adams, Tho. Paine, and John Gemmil (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. 4809). He later was principal of the West Chester Academy and represented Chester and Delaware Counties in the state senate (University of Pennsylvania, Biographical Catalogue of the Matriculates of the College [Philadelphia, 1894], 25; Leonard Bacon, Thirteen Historical Discourses, on the Completion of Two Hundred Years, from the Beginning of the First Church in New Haven [New Haven, 1839], 279; New-York Evening Post, 13 Mch. 1802; Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 24 Dec. 1814).

Index Entries