Thomas Jefferson Papers

Aaron Clark to Thomas Jefferson, 28 May 1817

From Aaron Clark

Albany N.Y. May 28. 1817.

Respected Sir.

Allow me the pleasure of presenting you with the Enclosed Copy of my Oration on the Subject of the Savages—

I Shall be extremely gratified to learn you recd them &c

Ever truly your Republican fellow Citizen and admirer

Aaron Clark

RC (MHi); dateline beneath signature; endorsed by TJ as received 11 June 1817 and so recorded in SJL. RC: left half of address cover only (CSmH: JF-BA), with PoC of TJ to Dominick Lynch, 26 June 1817, on verso; right half of address cover only (DLC), with PoC of TJ to William Short, 19 June 1817, on verso; addressed (damaged at crease): “Hon[. . .] Thomas Jefferson Esqr late President of the U.S.A. Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Albany, 29 May.

Aaron Clark (d. 1861), attorney, banker, and public official, was born in Worthington, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, and studied at Hamilton Oneida Academy (later Hamilton College) in Clinton, New York, before graduating in 1808 from Union College in Schenectady. He then studied law, served as private secretary to Governor Daniel D. Tompkins in 1810, and was clerk of the New York state assembly between 1814 and 1820. In the last capacity Clark authored several works on legislative procedure. He moved to New York City about 1821, became a teller at the North River Bank, and prospered as a lottery agent between 1825 and 1833. Clark was elected mayor of New York City on the Whig ticket in 1837 and served two terms before losing his bid for a third in 1839. He was president of the Merchants’ Insurance Company, 1851–52. Clark acquired extensive property holdings in New York City and Brooklyn. He died at his home in Brooklyn (Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society [1880–1908], 4:293–6; Melvin G. Holli and Peter d’Alroy Jones, eds., Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820–1980: Big City Mayors [1981], 66–7; Melvin Gilbert Dodge and Daniel Wyette Burke, eds., The Clark Prize Book [1894], 9–14; Hugh Hastings, ed., Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins [1898–1902], 2:286–7, 541–2; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1821]: 118; [1825]: 118; [1833]: 177; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends , 9:477, 595–6; The New-York City and Co-Partnership Directory, for 1843 & 1844 [1843], 70; The New York City Directory, for 1851–1852 [1851], 108; The New-York City Directory, for 1853–1854 [1853], 133; New York Evening Post, 3 Aug. 1861).

The enclosed oration was probably a newspaper version of a 22 July 1816 speech by Clark to the Pi Beta Phi Society in Schenectady, which he later had printed in pamphlet form as An Oration. A Project For the Civilization of the Indians of North America (Albany, 1819) (New York Columbian, 20 Feb. 1817). In this address Clark argued that Native Americans could be “civilized” through instruction in agriculture, the establishment of schools conducted in their native languages and, only after that, by the work of Christian missionaries (Clark, Oration, 6, 9, 11–3, 16).

Index Entries

  • An Oration. A Project For the Civilization of the Indians of North America (A. Clark) search
  • Clark, Aaron; An Oration. A Project For the Civilization of the Indians of North America search
  • Clark, Aaron; identified search
  • Clark, Aaron; letter from search
  • Indians, American; plans for civilizing search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search