Thomas Jefferson Papers

Benjamin Smith Barton to Thomas Jefferson, 1 May 1811

From Benjamin Smith Barton

May first, 1811.

Dear Sir,

Mr Oemler, of Georgia, a very intelligent gentleman, who has devoted much attention to the study of Entomology, has very particularly requested me to give him a few lines to you. I could not deny him this favor. He appears to be a man of much merit; and has, indeed, been mentioned to me, by some of my friends, in terms of great praise.

I fear you are very anxious to get back Persoon. I should have returned it long since, had I not been much disappointed in receiving a copy from Europe. I hope, however, in a short time, to shew you, that I have been making no bad use of the Synopsis, even in regard to your own State. Nor will I detain the work much longer.

It is reported, that Charles Thomson, Esq., has burnt all his papers, relative to our revolution. I cannot help wishing, if he found it necessary to burn some of his writings, that he had burnt his translation of the Bible, instead of the others.

You have a river in the south of Virginia, called Hardware, or Hardwere. What is the proper pronunciation, and the meaning of the word? Is it Indian? If your leisure permitted, I should be very glad to have a line on this subject.1

I beg you to present my best respects to Mr and Mrs Randolph, and to all your families, and be assured of the very great respect with which I am, Dear Sir,

Your sincere and obedient, and obliged, servant, &c.,

B. S. Barton.

P.S. I shall, in a few weeks, send you some printed sheets on the subject of our Indians.—

RC (DLC); dateline below signature; endorsed by TJ as received “by mr Oemler” on 19 Aug. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

Augustus Gottlieb oemler was a German-born pharmacist, botanist, and entomologist who settled in Savannah (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends , 13:629). charles thomson was secretary of the Continental Congress, 1774–89, but held no public office thereafter (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ). As the volumes came out he sent TJ his translation, The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament: translated from the Greek, 4 vols. (Philadelphia, 1808–09; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1474; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 9 [no. 499]) (Thomson to TJ, 13 Dec. 1808, 4 Feb. 1809 [DLC]). Thomson was known to have burned his memoirs, which included material omitted from the official congressional record, because he believed that the material was too sensitive for posterity (Boyd Stanley Schlenther, Charles Thomson: A Patriot’s Pursuit [1990], 204–5).

1 Barton here canceled the following paragraph: “I beg you to present my best respects to all your family. I hope Mr Randolph may find time, as well as yourself, to look over the printed sheets which I send. They are all the pages yet printed (the work going on very slowly, owing to the pressure of other business) of a new edition of my work on the Indian languages, a copy of which you possess.”

Index Entries

  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; and work on Indians search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; botany work search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; letters from search
  • books; on botany search
  • botany; books on search
  • Hardware River (Albemarle Co.) search
  • Indians; languages search
  • language; Indian search
  • Oemler, Augustus Gottlieb; introduced to TJ search
  • Persoon, Christiaan Hendrik; Synopsis Plantarum, seu Enchiridium Botanicum search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); botanical skills of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • Synopsis Plantarum, seu Enchiridium Botanicum (C. H. Persoon) search
  • The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant (Thomson) search
  • Thomson, Charles; The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant search