Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Adamo Fabbroni, Antoine Gouan, Lacepede, Marc Auguste Pictet, and André Thoüin, 6 March 1815

To Adamo Fabbroni, Antoine Gouan, Lacépède, Marc Auguste Pictet, and André Thoüin

Monticello in Virginia. Mar. 6. 1815.

Sir1

Doctr Barton, my friend, proposing, for the benefit of his health, a voyage across the Atlantic, and a trial of the air of Europe,2 will probably visit3 Florence in the course of his travels. he is one of the Vice presidents of the American Philosophical society, Professor of Natural history, Botany, Materia Medica, and of the Institutes and Clinical practice of Medecine in the University of Philadelphia, and distinguished by his writings in the Physical sciences. I have thought I should render a service acceptable to yourself as well as to him, and perhaps to Science itself, by procuring a personal acquaintance between two of her sons4 laboring in their different hemispheres for the instruction of man. I have therefore requested Dr Barton to present to you himself this letter, which, while it conveys to you the assurances of my high esteem and respect, may gratify me with new testimonies of a continuance of yours, in the attentions and civilities you may be so kind as to shew to my learned friend. I perform this office with the greater pleasure as it furnishes me a new occasion of tendering you the tribute of my high respect and consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAN: John Torrey Letters); addressed: “Al Signior Addamo FabbroniSocio corrispondente della Reale Accademia economica della Toscana à Firenze.” Dft (MHi); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; unsigned; at foot of text: “Ct de LacepedeM. ThouinPictetFabbroniGouan”; with list on verso containing both the names of the ten men TJ wrote this day on Benjamin Smith Barton’s behalf and four others: Destutt de Tracy, Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, Alexander von Humboldt, and Alexis Marie Rochon, with check marks by the five names covered by the circular letter above and the remaining names canceled; endorsed by TJ as a letter to Lacépède, Thoüin, Gouan, Pictet, and Fabbroni. Recorded in SJL as five separate letters to be delivered “by Dr Barton” to Lacépède and Thoüin in Paris, Gouan in Montpellier, Pictet in Geneva, and Fabbroni in Florence. Enclosed in TJ to Barton, 7 Mar. 1815.

Adamo Fabbroni (1748–1816) was born in Florence and studied and lived in various parts of the Italian peninsula before returning to his hometown in 1787. He was a member of the Florentine Academy and a host of other learned societies, the editor for several years of an agricultural journal, and the author of many scholarly publications, five of which TJ received during the 1780s from Fabbroni’s brother Giovanni. In addition to his more general agricultural works, Fabbroni published monographs on a wide range of topics, including archaeology, sculpture, silkworms, the valuation of land, and the manufacture of wine (Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani [1960– ], 43:669–73; Giuseppe Sarchiani, “Elogio d’Adamo Fabbroni,” Continuazione degli Atti dell’Imp. e Reale Accademia Economico-Agraria dei Georgofili di Firenze [Florence, 1818], 1:197–206; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 37 vols. description ends , 10:155–6, 14:701, 27:754–5; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends nos. 119, 120, 770, 816, 1210).

Antoine Gouan (1733–1821), botanist and zoologist, was born in Montpellier, France, and received his medical degree from the University of Montpellier in 1752. He was appointed professor of botany at his alma mater late in the 1760s and was the director of Montpellier’s botanical garden for many years. A friend and follower of Carolus Linnaeus, Gouan wrote prolifically on plants, fish, and insects. TJ met the Frenchman while on his 1787 tour of southern France, received seeds from him during his presidency, and owned a work by him explaining the Linnaean botanical system. Gouan was a member of the Institut de France and the Légion d’honneur and served as a physician in the French army, 1793–94. He retired from teaching in 1802 due to illness, became blind during the last decade of his life, and died in his hometown (Biographie universelle description begins Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, new ed., 1843–65, 45 vols. description ends , 17:223–5; M. Amoreux, “Notice Historique Sur Antoine Gouan, professeur de botanique à l’Ecole de Médecine de Montpellier,” Mémoires de la Société Linnéenne de Paris 1 [1822]: 656–82; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 37 vols. description ends , 11:444; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1079; Gouan to TJ, 28 Oct. 1804 [DLC]; “Portraits of Botanists,” Taxon 21 [1972]: 302).

Marc Auguste Pictet (1752–1825), educator and scientist, was born and educated in Geneva, Switzerland. Although originally trained as an attorney, he turned to science while still in his twenties. Pictet was professor of natural philosophy at the Academy of Geneva, 1786–1825, director of the local observatory, 1790–1819, and a member of both the Institut de France and the Royal Society of London. In 1790 he published an important work on heat, and six years later he helped found a journal, the Bibliothèque Britannique, to disseminate British scientific and technological discoveries. Although Pictet’s diverse scholarly interests included astronomy, geology, and meteorology, TJ only owned two of his works, a compilation of letters written in 1801 during a tour of the British Isles and an 1803 discourse on customs duties. A frequent visitor to Paris during the Consulate and Empire, he joined Napoleon’s Tribunate in 1802 and was an inspector of France’s Université Impériale for a number of years. After the emperor’s downfall, Pictet returned to Geneva and continued his studies there until his death (DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1970–80, 16 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– , 37 vols. description ends , 28:239–40; Jean Rilliet and Jean Cassaigneau, Marc-Auguste Pictet ou le rendez-vous de l’Europe universelle, 1752–1825 [1995]; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale, 39:91–2; Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse [2002– ]; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends nos. 2859, 3867).

1Dft: “Dr Sir.”

2In Dft TJ here canceled “for some time.”

3In Dft remainder of sentence reads “Paris on his route Southwardly.”

4Preceding four words interlined in Dft in place of “sçavants” (“scholars”).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; B. S. Barton as vice president of search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; and American Philosophical Society search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; as university professor search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; introduced by TJ search
  • Barton, Benjamin Smith; trip to Europe of search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; proposed letter of introduction to search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; proposed letter of introduction to search
  • Fabbroni, Adamo; identified search
  • Fabbroni, Adamo; letter to search
  • Fabbroni, Adamo; TJ introduces B. S. Barton to search
  • Gouan, Antoine; identified search
  • Gouan, Antoine; letter to search
  • Gouan, Antoine; TJ introduces B. S. Barton to search
  • Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander, Baron von; proposed letter of introduction to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Lacépède, Bernard Germain Étienne de La Ville-Sur-Illon, comte de; letter to search
  • Lacépède, Bernard Germain Étienne de La Ville-Sur-Illon, comte de; TJ introduces B. S. Barton to search
  • Pennsylvania, University of search
  • Pictet, Marc Auguste; identified search
  • Pictet, Marc Auguste; letters to search
  • Pictet, Marc Auguste; TJ introduces B. S. Barton to search
  • Rochon, Alexis Marie; proposed letter of introduction to search
  • schools and colleges; University of Pennsylvania search
  • Thoüin, André; letters to search
  • Thoüin, André; TJ introduces B. S. Barton to search