Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel M. Burnside to Thomas Jefferson, 13 December 1813

From Samuel M. Burnside

Worcester Massas Decemr 13th. 1813—


On the 24th of October 1812, the Legislature of Massachusetts formed a number of Gentlemen into a body Corporate and Politic, by the name of “The American Antiquarian Society.”—The nature, views and objects of this Institution are stated and explained in a pamphlet, recently published by their order, a copy of which is transmitted to You, and will accompany this letter.—The Society, desirous to secure the good wishes, the patronage and Support of the friends of Science throughout our Country, have directed me to address you, Sir, as one of the fathers of American Literature, and to solicit Your aid in the advancement of the laudable objects of their establishment. American Antiquities, they trust, have never been Subjects of indifference to one, who has done more than any other individual to elevate the rank of our Country in the general Republic of letters.—I am Therefore instructed to ask, Sir, If you will honor the Society by permitting them to elect You a member, and by affording them Such assistance from time to time in their pursuits,1 as may consist with the numerous other claims, which Your personal friends, and Your Country at large, may have upon Your attention.—With great consideration and

respect, I am, Sir, Your Obedt Servant
Saml M. Burnside. Secy
A. A. S

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Hon. Tho’s Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Dec. 1813 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: An Account of the American Antiquarian Society, incorporated, October 24th, 1812. published by order of the society (Boston, Nov. 1813), p. 30 of which indicates that TJ had been elected a member even before the above letter asked him for permission to do so.

Samuel McGregore Burnside (1783–1850), attorney, was a native of Northumberland, New Hampshire, who received an A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1805. After two years as preceptor of a female academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he took up the study of law. Burnside was called to the Massachusetts bar in 1810 and admitted to practice at the state supreme court two years later. Having moved to Worcester in 1810, he helped found the American Antiquarian Society in that city in 1812. In the ensuing years Burnside held the offices of recording secretary, 1812–14, corresponding secretary, 1814–23, counsellor, 1823–50, and librarian, 1830–31. He also served on the Massachusetts General Court, 1826–27, was a trustee of the nearby Leicester Academy, and sat for many years on the local school committee. At the time of his death Burnside owned real estate worth about $52,000 (General Catalogue of Dartmouth College and the Associated Schools, 1769–1925 [1925], 112; William Lincoln, History of Worcester, Massachusetts [1837], 238; Boston Gazette, 6 Apr. 1812; Account of the American Antiquarian Society, 15, 18; American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings, new ser., 1 [1880]: vi, vii, viii; DNA: RG 29, CS, Mass., Worcester, 1820, 1830, 1850; Salem [Mass.] Gazette, 5 May 1826; Pittsfield [Mass.] Sun, 15 Mar. 1827; MWA: Burnside Papers and finding aid; Boston Daily Atlas, 1 Aug. 1850).

On this day TJ received a report describing the annual meeting of the United States Military Philosophical Society held in New York City on 1 Nov. 1813. Contained therein were lists of the members present, officers chosen, resolutions passed, and candidates elected to membership, as well as a brief report on the society’s finances by its president, Jonathan Williams (printed circular in MoSHi: TJC-BC; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Charlotteville Virginia”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 1 Dec., and Charlottesville, 9 Dec.; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Dec. 1813).

1Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • American Antiquarian Society; An Account of the American Antiquarian Society search
  • American Antiquarian Society; S. Burnside as recording secretary of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; TJ elected a member search
  • An Account of the American Antiquarian Society search
  • Burnside, Samuel McGregore; as recording secretary of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Burnside, Samuel McGregore; identified search
  • Burnside, Samuel McGregore; letters from search
  • Massachusetts; charters American Antiquarian Society search
  • United States Military Philosophical Society; report of sent to TJ search
  • Williams, Jonathan; and United States Military Philosophical Society search