Thomas Jefferson Papers

Ira Ingram to Thomas Jefferson, 1 July 1816

From Ira Ingram

Charlottesville July 1st 1816.—

Venerable Sire,

Pardon a young man for interrupting the late chief magistrate of our Republic, in the enjoyment of that sweet and solacing retirement, so long an object of his anxiety, and so recently realized.—Imbibing, at an early age, his political principals from the writings of a Washington, a Jefferson, a Franklin and a Rush, it is natural that he should entertain a respect, approaching to veneration, for the merits and memories, the lives and labours, of those pillars of our liberties and worthies of the revolution. Neither of these great Men, has it ever been the lot of the obscure individual now addressing you, to behold.—Visiting Virginia for the purpose of obtaining subscribers for an American edition of Nicholson’s Encyclopædia, he is instructed by the Company whose Agent he is, to visit Monticello, and solicit the patronage and Name, of its great Proprietor.—It is for this end, as well as to gratify a laudable curiosity to see the seat and person of President Jefferson, that the subscriber has presumed to intrude upon the repose of our retired Statesman & Philosopher. The American Publishers being aware of the just influence of a name, deserving and receiving the high respect1 of their Countrymen, are doubly anxious to obtain its sanction to the undertaking now presented to the public for patronage. A prospectus is enclosed—As it is presumed Mr Jefferson is well acquainted2 with the Work, it is thought needless to exhibit a sample.—

Please to overlook the errors of this note, as the writer has had the advantages, only, of a plain English education at a country Academy. His Father is a poor man, the Parent of Nine children, who have, and will be compelled, to educate themselves and labour for a living.

That the remainder of your days may be sweetened by the society of your friends3 and relatives, the enjoyment of a rational and benign religion, and that the choicest of heaven’s blessings may accompany your decline to the tomb and the mansions of eternal rest hereafter, is the sinsere and unfeigned prayer, of your

obedient, and very humble servant

Ira Ingram

RC (MHi); addressed: “Honourable Thomas Jefferson Esquire Late President of the United States—Present”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Although TJ was not listed as a subscriber, at some point he acquired William nicholson’s American Edition of the British Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 6 vols. (Philadelphia, 1816–17; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 14 [no. 931]). The american publishers were Samuel A. Mitchell and Horace Ames.

1Manuscript: “repect.”

2Manuscript: “acquinted.”

3Manuscript: “fieneds.”

Index Entries

  • American Edition of the British Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (W. Nicholson) search
  • Ames, Horace search
  • books; encyclopedias search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; reputation of search
  • Ingram, Ira; letter from search
  • Ingram, Ira; solicits book subscriptions search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; orders books search
  • Mitchell, Samuel A. search
  • Nicholson, William; American Edition of the British Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences search
  • Rush, Benjamin; prestige of search
  • Washington, George; praised search