Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William Thornton, 24 August 1809

To William Thornton

Monticello Aug. 24. 09.

Dear Doctor

Having accidentally mentioned to my former servant Joseph Dougherty my misfortune in losing both my big-tailed rams, he, in his zeal for whatever concerns me, took the liberty of mentioning it to you & informed me you were so kind as to offer to supply my loss with one from your farm. by the cart which now goes to bring it, I take the occasion of returning you my best thanks for your kindness, which alone enables me to pursue a favorite object, that of raising this breed pure.

I have the pleasure of expecting the President & his lady, mr & mrs Gallatin at Monticello this day. I sincerely wish you were of the party. with my respectful compliments to mrs Brodeau & mrs Thornton I salute you with esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC: Thornton Papers); addressed: “Doctr William Thornton Washington”; endorsed by Thornton: “From Mr Jefferson sheep.” PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ.

William Thornton (1759–1828), first superintendent of the United States Patent Office, 1802–28, corresponded frequently with TJ on their many shared interests. A native of the British West Indies who received an M.D. from the University of Aberdeen in 1784, he came to the United States in 1786 and became a citizen two years later. Thornton was an early proponent of steamboat development and an accomplished amateur architect. TJ greatly admired his winning design for the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and later solicited his ideas for the design of the University of Virginia. Thornton was also interested in science and mathematics, farming, animal husbandry, and the arts, and he wrote passionately in support of colonial independence movements (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1901, 22 vols. description ends ; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 26:236–7; C. M. Harris and Daniel Preston, eds., Papers of William Thornton [1995– ]; TJ to Thornton, 9 May 1817; Thornton to TJ, 27 May 1817).

Index Entries

  • Brodeau, Ann search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; acquires sheep for TJ search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; acquires sheep from W. Thornton search
  • Gallatin, Albert; visits Monticello search
  • Gallatin, Hannah Nicholson (Albert Gallatin’s wife); visits Monticello search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); visits Monticello search
  • Madison, James; visits Monticello search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Gallatin, Hannah and Albert search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Madison, Dolley and James search
  • sheep; broadtail search
  • sheep; J. Dougherty acquires for TJ search
  • Thornton, Anna Maria Brodeau (William Thornton’s wife); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Thornton, William; and merino sheep search
  • Thornton, William; identified search
  • Thornton, William; letters to search
  • Virginia, University of (Charlottesville); design of search