Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Ashur Ware, 22 August 1816

To Ashur Ware

Monticello Aug. 22. 16.

Th: Jefferson not knowing how otherwise to address the inclosed to the Washington society in Boston, has taken the liberty of putting it under cover to mr Ware, and of requesting it’s delivery by him. he does this the more willingly as it furnishes him an opportunity of expressing the pleasure he has recieved from the perusal of mr Ware’s oration on the 4th of July and from the evidence it affords that the sun of freedom of Independance and Union, without having ceased to illumine the West, promises to beam again in the horizon of the East, in it’s pristine splendor.

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Isaac Briggs to TJ, with postscript by Mary B. Briggs, 7 May 1816; dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as a letter to “Ware mr <Richd>.” Recorded in SJL as written to “Ware Asa.” Enclosure: TJ to Washington Society (of Boston), 22 Aug. 1816.

Ashur Ware (1782–1873), newspaper editor and public official, was born in Sherborn, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University in 1804. After stints as an assistant at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and as a private tutor, in 1807 Harvard appointed him a tutor in Greek. In 1811 he was promoted to professor of Greek, resigning in 1815 to pursue legal studies. Ware was admitted to the bar of Suffolk County in 1816 but devoted most of his time to journalism. He coedited the Boston Yankee, a Republican newspaper. Moving in 1817 to the Maine district of Massachusetts, Ware edited the Portland Eastern Argus, which he used to promote statehood for Maine. When this goal was achieved in 1820, he became Maine’s first secretary of state. In 1822 President James Monroe appointed Ware the United States district judge for Maine, a post he held until 1866. During his judgeship he became a noted expert on maritime law. Ware served as a trustee of Bowdoin College, 1820–44, and was a founder in 1826 of the Portland Athenæum, serving as its president in 1832. He was president of the Exchange Bank in 1832 and a director of the Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad Company in 1850. On the 1870 census Ware declared ownership of real estate valued at $2,000 and a personal estate worth $10,000 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; William Willis, A History of The Law, The Courts, and The Lawyers Of Maine [1863], 634–46; George F. Talbot, “Ashur Ware. A Biographical Sketch,” Maine Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings, 2d ser., 1 [1890]: 409–21; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 3:273, 274 [15 Feb. 1822]; Ware, Edward H. Daveis, and George Freeman Emery, Reports of Cases Determined in the District Court of the United States for the District of Maine … by Ashur Ware, District Judge, 3 vols. [1849–74]; Catalogus Senatus Academici … Collegio Bowdoinensi [1864], 4; Private Acts of the State of Maine, passed by the Sixth Legislature, at its Session, held in January, 1826 [Portland, 1826], 692–3; Portland Eastern Argus, 10 Jan., 8 May 1832; Boston Daily Atlas, 15 Aug. 1850; DNA: RG 29, CS, Maine, Cumberland Co., 1870; Boston Daily Advertiser, 11 Sept. 1873).

The title page of Ware, An Oration, delivered before the Washington Society, in Boston, on the Fourth of July, 1816 (Boston, 1816; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 13 [no. 826]; TJ’s copy in ViU) gives the author’s first name as “Asher” and bears an inscription (trimmed), in an unidentified hand: “Thom[s] Jefferson [esqr]—presented by the Washington Society.” In this work Ware asserts that the Declaration of Independence “was an act of that moral sublimity, that finds few parallels in the history of nations,” that it was intended “to defend the equal rights of a whole people,” and that the nation’s success “now inspires with fortitude the patriots of South America” (pp. 3–5); that from its principle of the “natural and inborn right of man to self-government,” a “scheme of civil polity” was erected (p. 6); that a minority of Americans managed “to place themselves at the head of a powerful and respectable party, to whose eyes liberty never appears so lovely, as when she is reposing under the shadow of a throne” (p. 10); that victory in the late war, however, put an end to “the glories of federalism” (p. 14); that the “storm that threatened to prostrate our liberty in eternal destruction, only shook its branches, and caused its roots to strike deeper and more firmly in the soil”; and that “the tree of Liberty, watered by the blood of heroes and martyrs, shall continue to flourish and look green in the chosen land of law and freedom, till the thunders of the last trumpet shall be heard resounding over the fragments of a ruined world” (p. 16).

Index Entries

  • An Oration, delivered before the Washington Society, in Boston, on the Fourth of July, 1816 (A. Ware) search
  • Fourth of July; orations search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books &amp; Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Fourth of July orations search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; U.S. future search
  • United States; future of considered search
  • Ware, Ashur; An Oration, delivered before the Washington Society, in Boston, on the Fourth of July, 1816 search
  • Ware, Ashur; identified search
  • Ware, Ashur; letter to search
  • Washington Society (of Boston); sends Fourth of July oration to TJ search