Thomas Jefferson Papers

Sir John Sinclair to Thomas Jefferson, 1 November 1815

From Sir John Sinclair

32. Sackville Street London. 1. November–1815.

Dear Sir,

After a long interruption, I am happy to renew our correspondence, and to have another opportunity of expressing my sincere wishes for your health and happiness.

I have of late been engaged in a work which I hope will be of use both to my own country, and to America; and the circulation of which, I am persuaded you will be happy to promote on the other side of the atlantic.

The inclosed paper, which explains the contents of the work; and a sketch of the Chapter on those customs and habits which influence Health, will enable you to form an idea of the nature of the plan, and the mode of its execution.

I rejoice that the two countries are again at peace, which I hope will long continue; and; if possible shall never again be interrupted.

With much esteem & regard Believe me,

Dear Sir, Your faithful & obedient Servant

John Sinclair

RC (MHi); dateline adjacent to signature; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr &c—&c—&c”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 May 1816 and so recorded, as a letter of 21 Nov. 1815, in SJL. RC (MHi); part of address cover only; with PoC of TJ to David Gelston, 3 Aug. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thom[. . .]”; postmarked Charlottesville, 1 May. Enclosure: circular concerning a new, single-volume, octavo edition of Sinclair’s Code of Health and Longevity (originally published in 4 vols. in Edinburgh, 1807), consisting of an introductory paragraph asking for comments and additional information on the material included herein from “those respectable characters, to whom copies of this paper shall be transmitted”; and an extract consisting of chapter five of part two, treating “Of the Customs and Habits which Influence Health, and Rules therewith Connected,” which elaborates rules of health and hygiene recommended by Sinclair, summarizes similar recommendations from a variety of authors, and warns against the use of tobacco, opium, and a morning dram of spirits ([Edinburgh, 1815?]; TJ’s copy in ViU, with Sinclair’s handwritten inscription at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr From the author”). The extract was published as chapter four of part two in Sinclair, The Code of Health and Longevity; or, A General View of the Rules and Principles Calculated for the Preservation of Health, and the Attainment of Long Life (London, 1816), 453–71. TJ also apparently received an additional prospectus for the Code of Health and Longevity from Sinclair that outlined the proposed organization of chapters for the third edition, to be printed in a single octavo volume, and listed topics new to this edition, including clothing, habitation, change of residence, customs, and bathing (printed circular; undated; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 7 [no. 303]; TJ’s copy in MBPLi, addressed by Sinclair: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr &c—&c—&c Virginia,” bound with an unrelated circular by Sinclair on “Mildew in Wheat” printed in London after 8 June 1815 and before it was extracted in the New York Columbian, 21 Oct. 1815).

Sir John Sinclair (1754–1835), public official, author, and agricultural reformer, was born in Caithness, Scotland, educated at the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Oxford, and became a baronet in 1786. He was a member of parliament intermittently from 1780 to 1811 and served as president of the newly formed Board of Agriculture in the 1790s and again from 1806–13. Sinclair conducted agricultural experiments on his Scottish estates and wrote extensively on a wide range of topics, including agriculture, current events, political economy, and public health. His special interest was the compilation of data, and his lasting achievement was the Statistical Account of Scotland, 21 vols. (Edinburgh, 1791–99; repr. 1977–83). TJ and Sinclair met in France about 1786 and afterwards exchanged numerous pamphlets and corresponded on agriculture and politics, including a lengthy letter in which TJ described his moldboard plow. Sinclair died in Edinburgh (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1901, 22 vols. description ends ; ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ; Rosalind Mitchison, Agricultural Sir John: The Life of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, 1754–1835 [1962]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 38 vols. description ends , esp. 9:405–6, 30:197–209; Sowerby).

Index Entries

  • health; works on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; identified search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; letters from search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; sends prospectus to TJ search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; The Code of Health and Longevity search
  • The Code of Health and Longevity (J. Sinclair); prospectus for search