Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to DeWitt Clinton, 15 March 1815

To DeWitt Clinton

Monticello. Mar. 15. 15.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Clinton, and his thanks for the copy he has been so kind as to send him of his Introductory discourse to the Literary and Philosophical society of New York. the field which he has therein spread before the lovers of science offers ample room for their cultivation. and he is happy to observe that New York is so fast advancing to the work. she is certainly much favored by circumstances which lead to eminence1 in that career. he congratulates mr Clinton on the event of peace, and especially on the splendid events in the South which so honorably closed the war. and he salutes him with high respect and consideration.

RC (NNC: Clinton Papers); dateline at foot of text; addressed: “Dewitt Clinton esquire New York”; frank clipped; postmarked Milton, 22 Mar.; at head of text in Clinton’s hand: “15”; endorsed by Clinton. FC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand and endorsed by him.

DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828), public official, was born in Orange County, New York, graduated from Columbia College (later Columbia University) in 1786, and was subsequently admitted to the bar. During a long and important public career that began with service as private secretary to his uncle, New York governor George Clinton, the younger Clinton began as a states’-rights Republican, successively opposed Federalist leader John Jay and the Tammany wing of his own party, ran for president in 1812 with strong Federalist support and captured most of New England’s electoral votes, and supported Andrew Jackson’s presidential aspirations. Clinton sat in the New York Assembly, 1797–98, the New York Senate, 1798–1802, and the United States Senate, 1802–03. He had a long period of service as mayor of New York City, 1803–07, 1808–10, and 1811–15, and was sometimes concurrently a member of the state senate and lieutenant governor, holding the former post from 1806–11 and the latter from 1811–13. As governor of New York, 1817–23 and 1825–28, Clinton championed and ultimately saw to completion the Erie and Champlain canals, which connected these lakes to the Hudson River and thus brought much of the trade of the West to New York City. His long career was also marked by an intense interest in public education, antiquities, and historical, literary, and scientific investigation (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; 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– , 37 vols. description ends , 35:283–4; Milton Halsey Thomas, Columbia University Officers and Alumni 1754–1857 [1936], 111; Daily Albany Argus, 12 Feb. 1828).

TJ had recently received a copy of Clinton, An Introductory Discourse, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York, on the Fourth of May, 1814 (New York, 1815; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 7 [no. 304]; TJ’s copy, inscribed “With Mr Clinton’s Compliments,” is at MiU-C). Clinton was a founder and first president of this society. His extensive review at its inaugural meeting of scientific education, research, and knowledge in the United States drew on both TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia and his work on the megalonyx, an extinct species of sloth.

1FC: “distinction.”

Index Entries

  • An Introductory Discourse, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York (D. Clinton) search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; and Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; An Introductory Discourse, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; identified search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; science, American search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; on megalonyx search
  • Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York; and D. Clinton search
  • megalonyx search
  • New York (state); advancement of science in search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); D. Clinton’s use of search
  • science; advancement of in N.Y. search
  • War of1812; TJ on search