Thomas Jefferson Papers

José Corrêa da Serra to Thomas Jefferson, 16 June 1816

From José Corrêa da Serra

Philadelphia 16. June. 1816

Dear Sir

Your kind Letter of the 5 of this month reached me in due time, and i must entreat your forgiveness for not answering it sooner, neither my health, nor the hurry to finish the botanical course in which i was engaged without defrauding my hearers of any of the promised Lectures have given me a moment’s rest. Under severe rhumatic pains, i have Lectured almost every day in the afternoon, and gone to the fields in a gig every morning to collect the necessary plants. I feel very sensible to your congratulations, as to every sign of kindness from you, as to the thing itself though i must value it, does not make a great impression on me. It is somewhat Like Persimmon fruit, comes Late, and has been ripened by hard frosts. One of the clear advantages i find in it, is that by keeping me in America, it ensures me a greater number of pilgrimages to Monticello. Three other pocket books of Capt. Lewis have been found among the papers of Dr Barton, and that was all that existed in the Drs hands, but all the remaining papers concerning that expedition i have found deposited with Mr Nicholas Biddle, who tells me he is ready to give them, on receiving an intimation to do so, from Genl Clarcke from whom he had them. You see that i have done every thing in my power to satisfy your wishes, and you may be sure that will be the case in every occasion to serve you.

Lately, Litterary presents from Paris, after long delays, have at Last reached my hands, in them i have found the prescription of a new impenetrable cement, which i enclose in this Letter. Mr Blainville has published a Little memoir of ingenious conjectures to show that your Megalonyx is the Grisly Bear of the Missouri. what he says is very cleaver, but not sufficient to bring conviction, and he himself avows it. This memoir is printed in the journal de physique, and is not among the presents i received, otherwise i would have sent it to you. My best respects to Mrs and Mr Randolph, and souvenirs to all your family. I expect to be able to renovate them personally in a few weeks.

I remain with the highest esteem and respect

Most sincerely yours

J. Corrèa de Serra

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Joseph Milligan, 8 Sept. 1816, on recto; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Albemarle Cty Virginia”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 19 June.

The enclosed prescription of a new impenetrable cement has not been identified. For cement recipes received from Corrêa, see his letter to TJ of 12 Feb. 1816 and note. Henri Marie Ducrotay de blainville commented on the megalonyx in “Note sur l’ours gris d’Amérique” and “Des Fossiles,” Journal de Physique, de Chimie, d’Historie Naturelle et des Arts 81 (1815): 416–9; 82 (1816): 34–5. souvenirs is French for “regards; recalling to one’s memory.” renovate: “to renew; resume” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

Index Entries

  • Biddle, Nicholas; and Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Blainville, Henri Marie Ducrotay de search
  • botany; study of search
  • building materials; cement search
  • Clark (Clarke), William; and journals of Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and journals of M. Lewis search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; as Portuguese minister plenipotentiary search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; botanical lectures of search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; letters from search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; proposed visit of search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; sends cement recipe to TJ search
  • fossils; study of search
  • Lewis, Meriwether; papers of search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; journals of search
  • megalonyx search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings sent to search