Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Laval to Thomas Jefferson, 25 April 1817

From John Laval

Philadelphia April 25th 1817


Your Letter of the 11th instt came to hand, a few hours after Mr Dufief’s departure from Philadelphia. I have forwarded it to him, yesterday, by Ship Andrew, bound to Liverpool.

According to your previous request, I have, at length, Succeeded in procuring, for you, a copy of Enfield’s History of Philosophy; the work is not to be had in any Bookstore, & it is only by accident that it has been obtained. I Send the first volume by this day’s mail, & the Second will follow next week, according to usage. the Price is $7—

I daily expect a large importation from Paris, in the various departments of Literature, of which, when received, you will be early advised.

in the absence of my friend, I tender you my Services for your Commands, here or in any part of Europe.—

I am with the greatest respect Sir, Your very humble Servant

John Laval

P.S. there appears on Dufief’s Books a Balance of $450100 in your favor—

RC (DLC); dateline beneath postscript; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Apr. 1817 from Laval writing for Nicolas G. Dufief and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with first two pages of PoC of TJ to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 15 June 1817, on recto and verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre late Presidt of the United States Monticello—Va”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 25 Apr.

John Laval (ca. 1769–1839), merchant and bookseller, was a native of Strasbourg, France. When he became a naturalized American citizen in 1798 he had been in the United States for five years, having emigrated from Saint Domingue. In 1804 Laval became the first president of the Société de Bienfaisance de Philadelphia (French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia), a charity devoted to providing aid to émigrés of French descent. Laval took over Nicolas G. Dufief’s book business in Philadelphia when the latter departed for Europe in 1817. TJ ordered titles from Laval as late as 1824, and Laval continued in the book trade until his own death (Laval’s naturalization record, 7 Dec. 1798 [DNA: RG 21, NPEDP]; Cornelius William Stafford, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1800 [Philadelphia, 1800], 75; French Benevolent Society of Philadelphia Records [PHi]; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends ; Dufief to TJ, 4 Apr. 1817; TJ to Laval, 12 Sept. 1824; Laval to TJ, 24 Sept. 1824; A. M’Elroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1839 [1839], 142; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 13 July 1839; Philadelphia Public Ledger, 15 July 1839; Philadelphia Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier, 13 Nov. 1839).

Index Entries

  • Andrew (ship) search
  • books; on moral philosophy search
  • books; sent by J. Laval search
  • Dufief, Nicolas Gouin; account with TJ search
  • Enfield, William; The History of Philosophy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; account with N. G. Dufief search
  • Laval, John; and N. G. Dufief’s business search
  • Laval, John; as bookseller search
  • Laval, John; identified search
  • Laval, John; letters from search
  • The History of Philosophy (W. Enfield) search