Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Vaughan to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1809

From John Vaughan

Philad. 19 Aug 1809

Dear Sir

I enclose a letter received at the society & read last evening—with its envellope—The Rouleau mention’d on the Envellope has not made its appearance & may have [been]1 taken on by M Cole or may have come by the Syren, by which Vessel the letter possibly came—But all our packets came by the Mentor—Should you have recieved it, it will after you have Examin’d it be peculiarly acceptable to us—By a letter I have recd from Mr Humboldt, I find that the 1st Vol. of his Travels in So2 America will appear in Nov. 1809 & that he would be pleased to find an Amn Bookseller who would purchase the right of the English (In that Language)3 Edn which has been edited by an Englishman of Science under his Eye & with the Notes of Pictet of Geneva—his adress is at the Polytecnique School at Paris—Michaux has been very attentive, in completing our Journals & sending us out some works on Mineralogy, which were essential to us, as we are by means of M Godon a French mineralogist now amongst us, arranging our minerals What they have already done has been of material Use & made our Collection more Valuable—D Woodhouse left us his Minerals some few are of Value but not many for the want of Localities & Circumstancies—I enclose a prospectus relative to ancient vases formerly called Etruscan now Said to be Grecian M Warden has sent us 12 Engravings—also a Report of the Institut which request Bonaparte to assist the Engravers & publishers—as we have two Copies of this prospectus, you will retain this—The National Institute has Sent us the 5; 6; & 7 Vol. Physique & Mathematique of the Institut—If I can be made serviceable to You here command me freely—I hope your retiremt from public life will enable you to indulge more freely in your Scientific Pursuits

Myself Individually & all our Society will be happy to hear frequently from you

I remain with respect Your ob Serv & friend

Jn Vaughan

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr late Prest of U States Monticello”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Aug. 1809 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Alexander von Humboldt to TJ as president of the American Philosophical Society, Paris, 12 June 1809, enclosing his barometrical observations; requesting that TJ forward them to the society “comme un faible marque de mon devouement et de ma reconnaissance” (“as a feeble mark of my devotion and gratitude”); and asking that his regards be given to Caspar Wistar, Benjamin Rush, Robert Patterson, William Thornton, Adam Seybert, Charles Willson Peale, James Woodhouse, Nicholas Collin, Robert Hare, John Vaughan, James Mease, Andrew Ellicott, and Benjamin Smith Barton (RC in PPAmP: APS Archives; at head of text: “Monsieur le President”; endorsed by the society as “read 18 Augt Donation—of his acct of the Barometrical obsn on the Andes”).

John Vaughan (1756–1841), an English wine merchant who settled in Philadelphia in 1782, was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1784 and served as its treasurer from 1791 and as librarian from 1803, holding both positions until his death. He conducted the society’s routine business for many years, gathered volumes assiduously, and brought together many American and European scientists through correspondence and personal contact. In 1824 Vaughan catalogued the collection in the hope that it would become a national library (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; APS, Minutes, 16 Jan. 1784, 7 Jan. 1791, 18 Mar. 1803 [MS in PPAmP]).

Humboldt’s barometrical observations in the Andes, described as enclosed in his covering letter to TJ enclosed here, evidently became separated from that letter but soon reached the American Philosophical Society (Vaughan to TJ, 20 Aug. 1809). French scientist François André michaux had been elected a foreign member of the society on 21 Apr. 1809 (APS, Minutes).

The enclosed prospectus was one of two versions of a four-page printed promotional circular (both at PPAmP) for Peintures de Vases Antiques, vulgairement appelés Vases Étrusques, tirés de différentes collections (Paris, 1808–10), an ambitious project in which the editor Dubois Maisonneuve and the renowned Didot printing firm issued a total of 150 plates of Greek vases engraved by Ange Clener, with accompanying text by Aubin Louis Millin de Grandmaison. Subscribers received one livraison consisting of six engravings each month, at an initial cost of fifteen francs per livraison. In its 3 Dec. 1808 report the Classe des Beaux Arts of the Institut de France emphasized the significance and value of the proposed edition, praised the work involved in assembling images, and urged Napoleon to support its publication (PPAmP: APS Archives).

1Omitted word editorially supplied.

2Word interlined.

3Parenthetical phrase interlined.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; forwards publications to TJ search
  • American Philosophical Society; librarian of search
  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • American Philosophical Society; members of, foreign search
  • antiquities; and vases search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Clener, Ange (engraver) search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; agent to Europe search
  • Collin, Nicholas search
  • Ellicott, Andrew (1754–1820); greetings sent to search
  • Godon, Silvain; member of American Philosophical Society search
  • Grandmaison, Aubin Louis Millin de search
  • Hare, Robert; greetings sent to search
  • Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander, Baron von; Nivellement barométrique search
  • Institut de France; and work on ancient vases search
  • Maisonneuve, Dubois, ed.; Peintures des Vases Antiques search
  • Mease, James; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Mentor (ship); carries packages to TJ search
  • Michaux, François André; foreign member of American Philosophical Society search
  • mineralogy; and the American Philosophical Society search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; and publication on ancient vases search
  • Nivellement barométrique (Humboldt) search
  • Patterson, Robert; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; and A. von Humboldt search
  • Peintures des Vases Antiques (ed. Maisonneuve) search
  • Pictet, Marc Auguste search
  • Rush, Benjamin; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Seybert, Adam; A. von Humboldt sends regards to search
  • Syren (sloop); carries dispatches search
  • Thornton, William; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Vaughan, John; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Vaughan, John; identified search
  • Vaughan, John; letters from search
  • Vaughan, John; librarian of American Philosophical Society search
  • Warden, David Bailie; sends books to American Philosophical Society search
  • Wistar, Caspar; A. von Humboldt sends greetings to search
  • Woodhouse, James search