Thomas Jefferson Papers

John M. Carter to Thomas Jefferson, 27 March 1815

From John M. Carter

Georgetown, D.C. March 27. 1815.—


Without having the honor of an acquaintance with you I have presumed to obtrude myself upon your attention—in the presentation of Arator, by Col John Taylor of your State—This being the second edition of that work, the author has avowed himself, which he did not do in the first1 edition.—I have taken this liberty with you, as the publisher of Arator, merely from the Strictures contained in it, upon your “notes on Virginia,” which, coming from so distinguished a citizen as Col Taylor, I supposed you would wish to see.—From which circumstance, Sir, I trust you will not attribute to me any sort of offence, as intended.

With the most respectful considerations, Sir, I am your very obt servt

Jno. m. Carter

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 31 Mar. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Albert Gallatin, 24 Apr. 1815 (second letter), on verso; addressed: “The Honorable Thos Jefferson, Monticello, Virginia”; franked; postmarked Georgetown, 29 Mar. Enclosure: John Taylor of Caroline, Arator; being a series of Agricultural Essays, Practical & Political, 2d ed. (Georgetown, 1814; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 6 [no. 255]).

John M. Carter, printer, was one of the proprietors of the semiweekly District of Columbia newspaper, The Spirit of ’Seventy-Six, 1810–14. The first of John Taylor of Caroline’s “Arator” essays appeared in that newspaper on 25 Dec. 1810. Carter published editions of Arator in Georgetown in 1813 and 1814, in Baltimore in 1817, and in Petersburg in 1818, each with additional material (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:94, 106; Washington Spirit of ’Seventy-Six, 18 Dec. 1810; Georgetown Federal Republican, and Commercial Gazette, 17 Nov. 1813; Freda F. Stohrer, “Arator: A Publishing History,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 88 [1980]: 442–5).

On pp. 61–7 of the enclosed second edition of Arator, in essay “Number 14. Slavery, Continued,” Taylor included strictures defending the institution of slavery from the critical remarks in TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia. The first edition of Arator (Georgetown, 1813) contained the same passage on pp. 67–74.

1Word interlined in place of “second.”

Index Entries

  • Arator; being a series of Agricultural Essays, Practical & Political (J. Taylor) search
  • Carter, John M.; identified search
  • Carter, John M.; letters from search
  • Carter, John M.; publishes Arator (J. Taylor) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); criticism of search
  • slavery; TJ’s policies concerning search
  • Taylor, John (of Caroline); Arator: being a series of Agricultural Essays, Practical & Political search