To John B. Colvin
Monticello Jan. 2. 15.
Your favor of Dec. 21. is just recieved. with respect to the orthography of the Indian names of individuals & tribes, it seems as yet to be unfixed, their names having but rarely occurred. it is the same as yet in many instances which are familiar. the mode of spelling the name of the Patowmack, Potomack, Potomac, Potomak, is not yet settled. the last perhaps is gaining an ascendancy. I imagine the first step is to find the true native pronuntiation of the names, and then to represent these sounds according to the power of the letters of our Alphabet, in their most usual employment. I am glad this question has attracted your notice, because I am sure you will make the best of it you can, and the orthography you employ in an edition of the laws will probably be adopted & appealed to as authentic. testifying my satisfaction that this task has fallen into so good hands I tender you the assurance of my esteem & respect
PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; at foot of text: “Mr Colvin”; endorsed by TJ.
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