Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Logan to Thomas Jefferson, 27 April 1816

From George Logan

Stenton April 27th 1816

Dear Sir

your venerable friend Charles Thompson, resides on his farm about eight miles from Stenton. I visit him three or four times every year, at which times, I derive instruction and amusement, from his lively and interesting conversation. I dined with him a few days since, when I found him highly gratified by your last Letter to him; in which you inform him, of your having been engaged in collecting a code of ethics from the Holy1 scriptures, highly satisfactory to yourself. Pray give it to your country: it will remove slanders respecting your unbelief in the Christian religion; and will promote virtue and2 morality in the rising generation.

The more I read of history—the more I contemplate the character of man; the more I am convinced of the necessity of introducing the spiritual doctrines of Christ into governments;3 in order to render nations happy and4 prosperous

I this morning received two packets from my valuable friend Sir John Sinclair. I send you one of the inclosed papers, which will give you a partial view of his present humane and patriotic engagements.

I also inclose part of a Letter from my worthy ancestor James Logan, to his friend in Ireland on the nature5 of religion—How consoling such opinions to posterity, when compared with the miserable sophistry of such characters6 as Voltaire: of whom the great Frederic says in a Letter to Dalembert dated Potsdam 1753. “Voltaire is the most malignant lunatic I ever was acquainted with—He is excellent only in his writings. It is impossible you should imagine all the duplicity and infamous knavery of which he has here been guilty.” Dalembert in a Letter to the King of Prussia dated Paris June 30th 1778. giving him an account of the death of Voltaire, says, “the image of this great man dying, excited emotions so strong, and fixed itself so powerfully on my imagination, that it never can be effaced. It gave birth to the most maloncholy reflections, on the non entity of life and fame, and the misery of man.”7

My Wife unites with me in respects to yourself and amiable family,8

Accept assurances of my friendship

Geo: Logan

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 8 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL, with TJ’s additional notation beneath endorsement: “C. Thompson Sr J. Sinclair.” Dft (PHi: Logan Papers); endorsed by Logan. First enclosure not found.

james logan, colonial statesman and scholar, was Logan’s grandfather (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 ). A letter from the elder Logan to his friend in ireland appeared in the Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser on 17 Apr. 1816. Dated Philadelphia, 15 Mar. 1729, and headed “Part of a letter from the honorable James Logan to a Gentleman in Ireland,” the extract argues that “To know the operation of God in the Soul, is the only Religion that can subsist on a solid foundation, and … is the only end for which a man was formed”; that “the force of reason and truth will gradually prevail over all prejudices”; but that Logan fears that “darkness and delusion must yet be exalted and raised to a mighty power” in order “that all who see it may forever hold it in utter abhorrence.”

The letter dated potsdam, April 1753, from Frederick II, king of Prussia, was written to Jean Baptiste de Boyer, marquis d’Argens. For this letter and that of june 30th 1778 from Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, see Thomas Holcroft, trans., Posthumous Works of Frederic II. King of Prussia (London, 1789), 12:130–52, 456–7.

1Word interlined in Dft.

2Logan here canceled “religion.”

3Dft: “government.”

4Dft: “or.”

5Logan here canceled “and character” in RC and Dft.

6Word interlined in Dft in place of “miserable sophists.”

7Dft: “men.”

8Preceding twelve words not in Dft.

Index Entries

  • Alembert, Jean Le Rond d’; on Voltaire search
  • Boyer, Jean Baptiste de, marquis d’Argens; and correspondence with Frederick II (“the Great”) search
  • Christianity; G. Logan on search
  • Frederick II (“the Great”), king of Prussia; on Voltaire search
  • Frederick II (“the Great”), king of Prussia; Posthumous Works (trans. T. Holcroft) search
  • Holcroft, Thomas; translatesPosthumous Works of Frederic II. King of Prussia (Frederick II, king of Prussia) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth search
  • Jesus; doctrines of search
  • Logan, Deborah Norris (George Logan’s wife); sends greetings to TJ search
  • Logan, George; and TJ’s religious beliefs search
  • Logan, George; family of search
  • Logan, George; letters from search
  • Logan, George; on Christianity search
  • Logan, James (1674–1751); on religion search
  • newspapers; PhiladelphiaPoulson’s American Daily Advertiser search
  • Philadelphia; Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser search
  • Posthumous Works (Frederick II, king of Prussia; trans. T. Holcroft) search
  • religion; G. Logan on search
  • religion; J. Logan on search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; friendship with G. Logan search
  • Thomson, Charles; friendship with TJ search
  • Voltaire (François Marie Arouet); opinions of search