Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Vaughan, 8 February 1815

To John Vaughan

Monticello Feb. 8. 15.

Dear Sir

Your very friendly letter of Jan. 4. is but just recieved, and I am much gratified by the interest taken by yourself, and others of my collegues of the Philosophical Society, in what concerned myself on withdrawing from the presidency of the society. my desire to do so had been so long known to every member, and the continuance of it to some, that I do not suppose it can be misunderstood by the public. setting aside the consideration of distance, which must be obvious to all, nothing is more incumbent on the old than to know when they should get out of the way, and relinquish to younger successors the honors they can no longer earn, and the duties they can no longer perform. I rejoice in the election of Dr Wistar, and trust that his senior standing in the society will have been considered as a fair motive of preference by those whose merits, standing alone, would have justly entitled them to the honor, and who as juniors, according to the course of nature, may still expect their turn.

I have recieved with very great pleasure the visit of mr Ticknor, and find him highly distinguished1 by science and good sense. he was accompanied by mr Gray, son of the late Lt Govr of Massachusets, of great information and promise also. it gives me ineffable comfort to see such subjects coming forward to take charge of the political & civil rights the establishment of which has cost us such sacrifices. mr Ticknor will be fortunate if he can get under the wing of mr Correa: and if the happiness of mr Correa requires (as I suppose it does) his return to Europe we must sacrifice to it that which his residence here would have given us, and acquiesce under the regrets which our transient acquaintance with his worth cannot fail to embody with our future recollections of him.—of Michaux’s work I possess 3. vols, or rather Cahiers, one on Oaks, another Beeches & Birches, and a third on Pines.

I salute you with great friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); at foot of text: “John Vaughan esq.” PoC (DLC).

Vaughan’s very friendly letter was dated 9 Jan. 1815, not jan. 4. François André Michaux’s work on oak, beech, birch, and pine trees was his Histoire des Arbres Forestiers de l’Amérique Septentrionale (Paris, 1810–13; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1083).

1Word interlined in place of “qualified.”

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on youth search
  • American Philosophical Society; and C. Wistar search
  • American Philosophical Society; TJ resigns from presidency of search
  • beech trees search
  • birch trees; F. A. Michaux on search
  • books; on botany search
  • botany; books on search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; plans to return to Europe search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; TJ on search
  • Gray, Francis Calley; TJ on search
  • Gray, Francis Calley; visits Monticello search
  • Histoire des arbres forestiers de l’Amerique septentrionale (F. A. Michaux) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; F. C. Gray search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; G. Ticknor search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; post-Revolutionary youth search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; retirement search
  • Michaux, François André; Histoire des arbres forestiers de l’Amerique septentrionale search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Gray, Francis C. search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Ticknor, George search
  • oak; F. A. Michaux on search
  • pine trees search
  • Ticknor, George; TJ on search
  • Ticknor, George; visits Monticello search
  • trees; beech search
  • trees; birch search
  • trees; F. A. Michaux catalogues search
  • trees; oak search
  • trees; pine search
  • Vaughan, John; and American Philosophical Society search
  • Vaughan, John; letters to search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and American Philosophical Society search