Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Hosack to Thomas Jefferson, 1 August 1816

From David Hosack

New york august 1. 1816


Accept my thanks for your favour of the 17th July with the seeds accompanying it—I am also indebted to you for a former favour of the Same nature—the seeds are in good order but it is too late to sow them in the present season—with the aid of manganese most of them will probably grow the next year—you know that this stimulus will excite the smallest remains of the vital principle which seeds may possess—It gives me pain to State to you that altho new york has done herself great credit by the purchase of the Botanic Garden She has made no provision whatever for the Support or the improvement of it—I hope however that measures are now about1 to be taken to recover it and to augment the collection it at present contains—in that case it is my intention immediately to begin the Flora of our country particularly of those plants that have not yet been figured or described—I propose to do it in ye manner of the English Botany—I only wait for the corporation of our city to give me the facilities I ask, to begin this much wanted work—mr Elliott of So Carolina—mr Le Compte of Georgia my nephew Dr Eddy will give me great aid—I have Just received an interesting letter from my friend Dr Francis—I Subjoin an extract from it which will gratify you as it is to you we are indebted for ye valuable work to which it relates

I am Sir with great respect


David Hosack

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ on verso of enclosure as received 11 Aug. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); portion of address cover only; with PoC of TJ to James Freeman, 10 Oct. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jef[. . .] &c Mon[. . .]”; postmarked New York, 4 Aug. Enclosure: extract from John W. Francis to Hosack, London, 26 May 1816, stating that “The Population of the U.S. as a whole are more enlightened than that of any other Country; they possess more enterprise than any other people under the canopy of Heaven; they are inferior to no people in regard to physical and intillectual capacity. This is not the opinion of an humble individual; all who have studied with impartiality the Character of our people must give their assent to the truth of what is now advanced. I remember so distinc[t]ly and with so much pleasure the assertions of a Philosopher whose reputation is preeminen[t]ly great and who on a Subject of this kind must be acknowledged to be a most competent Judge that I cannot but give them to you—They were uttered by your friend, the learned president of the Royal Society during one of those morning visits at his residence that I have so often and so advantageously made After some questions put me relative to the state of the physical Sciences in America, Sir Joseph [Banks] observed ‘your country has lately given us the travels of Lewis & Clark: I have just finished the perusal of their work; its a great performance we have nothing like it—Our voyages and our travels are very inferior when compared with their exploratory Tour—It was a wonderful expedition, wisely projected, and ably executed. Sir, the fatigues of a Single day which those Travellers endured would have killed almost any European’—Such is the language which this distinguished man employed and I might add similar opinions from other high authorities” (Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 207:36880; in an unidentified hand; bracketed material editorially supplied; at head of text in Hosack’s hand: “Extract of a Letter from Dr John W. Francis to D Hosack dated London May 26. 1816”).

TJ’s favour was actually dated 13, not 17 July 1816. english botany: James Edward Smith and James Sowerby, English Botany; or, Coloured Figures of British Plants, with their Essential Characters, Synonyms, and Places of Growth, 36 vols. (London, 1790–1814). John Eatton Le Conte (le compte) summered in New York or New Jersey and spent the rest of the year at Woodmanston, his Georgia plantation (John Hendley Barnhart, “John Eatton Le Conte,” American Midland Naturalist 5 [1917]: 135).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Banks, Sir Joseph; praises Lewis and Clark Expedition search
  • Banks, Sir Joseph; president of Royal Society of London search
  • books; on botany search
  • botany; books on search
  • botany; scholars of search
  • Eddy, Caspar Wistar search
  • Elgin Botanic Garden (New York City) search
  • Elliott, Stephen search
  • English Botany; or, Coloured Figures of British Plants (J. E. Smith and J. Sowerby) search
  • Francis, John Wakefield; praises American people search
  • gardens; in New York City search
  • Hosack, David; and Elgin Botanic Garden search
  • Hosack, David; botanical studies of search
  • Hosack, David; letter from search
  • Hosack, David; TJ sends seeds to search
  • Le Conte, John Eatton search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; J. Banks on search
  • New York (city); Elgin Botanic Garden search
  • Royal Society of London; members of search
  • science; knowledge of in U.S. search
  • seeds; sent by TJ search
  • Smith, James Edward; English Botany; or, Coloured Figures of British Plants search
  • Sowerby, James; English Botany; or, Coloured Figures of British Plants search