Thomas Jefferson Papers

David A. Leonard to Thomas Jefferson, 30 December 1813

From David A. Leonard

Bristol Decr 30th 1813

Dear Sir,

Shall I, without1 apology, intrude so far upon your attention, as to state to you the object of this letter? I, with several brothers as well as other friends, are now resolved on what, for two or three years passed, we have had in serious contemplation—that is, to remove into the Western Country. They look to me to make the necesary inquiries. But very few of us, if any, are personally acquainted with any part of that country. What we have heard of that country has strongly prepossessed us to remove thither. As the people who live in the several territories will be generally inclined to speak well of the country they have chosen for their home, we deemed it advisable to make a little enquiry of the author of ‘Notes on Virginia,’2 where the most inviting situation for 20. or 30 families, may be selected. Among our number may be found farmers, merchants, mechanicks labourers &c. Our general views are agriculture Manufactures, Culture of sheep (the merino) &c! We have been inclined toward the Missouri Tery but cannot say we are without our fears whether that country be healthful for emigrants from N. England, & whether some part of the Illinois tery, Indiana Tery or of the state of Ohio may be preferred. We should therefore feel ourselves under great obligation to you, Sir, for a word of instruction & advice, knowing that you have long contemplated the various local3 circumstances of our Country & have the most correct judgement where those parts are that are now attended with the most liberal prospects & most inviting to settlers whose objects are like those of ours. We are wishing to fix upon a spot before the ensuing season as many of us have long been determined to remove from N. England. With us, to remove at so great a distance, is indeed a serious & important object; this, dear Sir, is our apology for thus presuming upon your kindness to give us some little general advice. Mr R. Easton of St. Louis4 speaks very well of the Missouri Tery—Mr Thos. Sloo entertains a very flattering opinion of the Kaskaskia Country. Other gentlemen also speak well of other places. We feel prepared to repose great confidence in what you may please to inform us. Should you not find leisure to reply—Will you be so kind as to name to us the person or persons who could advise on this, to us, so interesting & important a subject.

Yours very respectfully

David A Leonard

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); between dateline and salutation: “Thomas Jefferson Esq”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Jan. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

David Augustus Leonard (1771–ca. 1819), clergyman, author, and merchant, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and graduated from Rhode Island College (later Brown University) in 1792. During the decade following his ordination as a Baptist evangelist in 1794, he served as a preacher in Massachusetts and New York City, published a number of sermons and orations, and opened a school. In 1805 Leonard moved to Bristol, Rhode Island, where he became a Unitarian and a merchant, edited the Mount Hope Eagle, 1807–08, supported the Republican party, and served for a dozen years as postmaster. In 1817 he relocated for health and financial reasons to Vincennes in the Indiana Territory, but he died insolvent two years later (D. Hamilton Hurd, comp., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts [1884], 983; Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764–1904 [1905], 79; Sprague, American Pulpit description begins William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, 1857–69, 9 vols. description ends , 6:349–50; Thomas Baldwin, A Sermon delivered at Bridgewater, December 17, 1794, at the Ordination of the Rev. David Leonard to the Work of an Evangelist [Boston, 1795]; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1800], 256; New York Mercantile Advertiser, 20 May 1800; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:994; DNA: RG 29, CS, R.I., Bristol, 1810; Newport Rhode-Island Republican, 20 Mar. 1810; Providence Gazette, and Moral, Political & Commercial Register, 10 May 1817; Providence Patriot, 20 Nov. 1819; Providence Rhode Island American, and General Advertiser, 28 Jan. 1820).

Rufus easton, a former judge in the Missouri Territory, was elected its delegate to the United States Congress in 1814. Thomas sloo served as a land-claims commissioner in the Illinois Territory’s Kaskaskia District, 1812–13 (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 14:79, 790, 16:340).

1Reworked from “with.”

2Inconsistent closing double quotation mark editorially changed to single quotation mark.

3Word interlined.

4Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Easton, Rufus; as congressman for Missouri Territory search
  • Illinois Territory; immigration to search
  • Indiana Territory; immigration to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Leonard, David Augustus; and westward relocation search
  • Leonard, David Augustus; identified search
  • Leonard, David Augustus; letters from search
  • merino sheep; breeding of search
  • Missouri Territory; migration to search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); TJ as author of search
  • Ohio; migration to search
  • Sloo, Thomas; as land-claims commissioner search