Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph H. Nicholson to Thomas Jefferson, 3 May 1814

From Joseph H. Nicholson

Baltimore May 3. 1814

My Dear Sir

Mr James H. MCulloch, the son of our Collector, is going westward on some scientific Pursuits, and as he wishes to take Monticello in his way, I beg leave to introduce him to you—I flatter myself when you know him, you will not find him unworthy of your acquaintance—One of his Objects is to look into the Mineralogy and aboriginal History of our Country, and as these are Subjects which you have not suffered to escape you, permit me to ask for him such aids, in the furtherance of his Views, as you may think useful to him—

After a separation of such a length of Time, with very little Hope of again meeting you, I cannot address you without the warmest Emotions. May I therefore tell you of the deep Interest which I always take in every thing that concerns you, and respectfully offer you the best wishes of a Heart sincerely devoted to you?

Joseph H. Nicholson

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Nicholson Joseph A.” received 18 May 1814 and so recorded in SJL, with the added notation: “by mr McCulloch.”

Joseph Hopper Nicholson (1770–1817), legislator and judge, was a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After studying law, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates, 1796–98, and in the United States House of Representatives, 1799–1806. Nicholson strongly supported TJ during the 1800 presidential election and became a Republican leader closely allied with fellow congressmen John Randolph of Roanoke and Nathaniel Macon. From 1806 until his death Nicholson served as chief justice of Maryland’s sixth judicial district, in which capacity he also served on the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal. In 1810 he became president of the Commercial and Farmers’ Bank of Baltimore. During the War of 1812 Nicholson raised and commanded a company of artillery and was present at the successful September 1814 defense of Baltimore. Shortly thereafter he assisted his brother-in-law Francis Scott Key in publishing “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” a poem that became better known as “The Star Spangled Banner.” TJ and Nicholson corresponded occasionally on governmental matters early in the 1800s (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 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– , 34 vols. description ends , esp. 32:512–3; Scott S. Sheads, “Joseph Hopper Nicholson: Citizen-Soldier of Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine 98 [2003]: 133–51; Baltimore Niles’ Weekly Register, 8 Mar. 1817).

James H. McCulloh (ca. 1792–1869), physician, banker, and author, attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1814, with a final essay on the castor-oil plant. That same year he was appointed a garrison surgeon in the United States Army in his native Maryland, serving until 1816. McCulloh assisted Louis H. Girardin in 1822 in organizing the Academy of Science and Literature in Baltimore. He served as deputy collector for the port of Baltimore under his father, James H. McCulloch (1756–1836), from roughly 1827 until about 1835. McCulloh served as president of the Bank of Baltimore, 1841–53. He wrote books on the origins of Native Americans and on Christianity (General Catalogue of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society of Princeton University [ca. 1952], 63; Catalogue of the Alumni of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, 1765–1877 [1877], 113; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:661; TJ to McCulloh, 7 Nov. 1817; McCulloh to TJ, 14 Nov. 1817; John R. Quinan, Medical Annals of Baltimore From 1608 to 1880 [1884], 32; R. J. Matchett, Matchett’s Baltimore Directory for 1827 [1827], 177; Matchett’s Baltimore Director, Corrected up to September, 1835. For 1835–6 [1835], 170; J. Thomas Smith, “The National Bank of Baltimore,” Bankers’ Magazine 52 [1896]: 620–32; McCulloh, An Impartial Exposition of the Evidences and Doctrines of the Christian Religion [1836]; McCulloh, On the Credibility of the Scriptures [1867]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Md., Baltimore City, 1850, 1860; Baltimore Sun, 25, 28 Dec. 1869).

McCulloh’s work on the aboriginal history of the United States resulted in a book entitled Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. (Baltimore, 1816; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 173]; TJ’s copy in MiU-C).

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • McCulloch, James H. (father of James H. McCulloh); collector at Baltimore search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); identified search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); introduced by J. H. Nicholson search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); proposed western exploration by search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. search
  • McCulloh, James H. (son of James H. McCulloch); scientific interests of search
  • Nicholson, Joseph Hopper; identified search
  • Nicholson, Joseph Hopper; introduces J. H. McCulloh search
  • Nicholson, Joseph Hopper; letters from search
  • Researches on America; being an attempt to settle some points relative to the Aborigines of America, &c. (J. H. McCulloh) search