Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Bentley to Thomas Jefferson, 16 April 1812

From William Bentley

Salem April 16. 1812. Mass.


I have taken the liberty at his request, to introduce Mr Obadiah Rich, who is travelling in the Southern States. His ardent desire to see the man, in his own country, whom all Europe honours, & all our wise citizens admire, has obliged me to honour myself in writing to Mr Jefferson.

Mr Rich has discovered great affection for Natural History, His virtue is pure, & his manners amiable. He is enriched by his travels, & by his uncommon attainments. As one of the most worthy of our New England men, I leave him with the man I delight to honour.

Permit me, with unrivalled esteem of your public & private character, to subscribe myself, Your devoted Servant,

William Bentley.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson, Late President of the US. A.”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 July 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in Obadiah Rich to TJ, 15 July 1815.

William Bentley (1759–1819), Congregational clergyman, was born in Boston, graduated from Harvard College in 1777, served briefly as a schoolmaster, and returned to his alma mater as a tutor in Latin and Greek in 1780. Ordained in 1783, he remained in the same Salem parish for the rest of his life. Bentley was highly skilled in languages, contributed many news digests and commentaries to the Salem Gazette beginning in 1794, and kept a voluminous personal diary from 1784 until his death. A Jeffersonian Republican and a liberal Unitarian, Bentley was also an active Freemason and a member of the American Philosophical Society. He bequeathed his library, one of the largest private American collections of his day, to Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; The Diary of William Bentley, D.D. Pastor of the East Church Salem, Massachusetts, 4 vols. [1905–14]; Bentley to TJ, 17 June 1802 [DLC]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 8 Jan. 1811 [MS in PPAmP]; Salem Gazette, 4 Jan. 1820).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Bentley, William (of Massachusetts); identified search
  • Bentley, William (of Massachusetts); introduces O. Rich search
  • Bentley, William (of Massachusetts); letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Rich, Obadiah; letter of introduction for, from W. Bentley search