Thomas Jefferson Papers

John F. Watson to Thomas Jefferson, 3 May 1814

From John F. Watson

Philad 3 May 1814

Permit me Sir, thus, to lay before you the Prospectus for those eminent publications the Edinbgh & Quarterly Reviews & to solicit your patronage to either or both of them, from the last Nos or from the beginning—

It is possible you may receive them from some other Bookseller already, if so, forgive this trespass upon your time & notice—

Yrs respectfy

John F Watson

RC (DLC); dateline beneath signature; addressed: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson Esqre Monticello Va”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 3 May; endorsed by TJ as received 13 May 1814 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not identified.

John Fanning Watson (1779–1860), businessman and antiquarian, was born in New Jersey and received commercial training in Philadelphia and in his native state. He served as a clerk in the United States War Department from about 1800 until 1804, when he became the New Orleans mercantile agent for a Pennsylvania business firm and subsequently a provisions agent for Louisiana army posts. Watson moved to Philadelphia and there commenced a book and stationery business in 1809, and he expanded to publishing by 1811. During his tenure as cashier of the Bank of Germantown, 1814–48, he authored religious works and devoted himself to the collection and preservation of historical materials, buildings, and artifacts. These activities facilitated the 1824 founding of both the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Society for the Commemoration of the Landing of William Penn. After exhaustive research, including the use of oral history, questionnaires, and archaeological evidence, Watson issued his somewhat idealized Annals of Philadelphia (1830 and later eds). He followed this with comparable works chronicling the city and state of New York. From about 1848 until his retirement in 1859, Watson was treasurer and secretary of the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad. He died in Germantown (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Deborah Dependahl Waters, “Philadelphia’s Boswell: John Fanning Watson,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877–  description ends 98 [1974]: 3–52; Benjamin Dorr, A Memoir of John Fanning Watson [1861]; DeWint-M: Watson Family Papers; Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 Dec. 1860).

Index Entries

  • Edinburgh Review search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Quarterly Review search
  • subscriptions, for publications; journals search
  • Watson, John Fanning; bookseller search
  • Watson, John Fanning; identified search
  • Watson, John Fanning; letters from search