Thomas Jefferson Papers

Noah Worcester to Thomas Jefferson, 22 October 1817

From Noah Worcester

Brighton Oct. 22. 1817.


I inclose a copy of the Letters received from Russia. The Trustees have elected Prince Alexander Galitzin an honorary member of the Massachusetts Peace Society.1 He is now the only honorary member. Pacific principles are rapidly gaining ground in our country; and I have just received letters from a formidable Peace Society in London. The unanimous respect which has recently been shown to President Munroe is evidence that party spirit has in a great measure subsided in the United States.2

I have, Sir, the fullest confidence that your views and feelings are in favor of the abolition of war—that “greatest of human evils;” and I have a Strong3 desire that the whole weight of your character should be thrown into the pacific scale before you leave the world. I now write not in my official capacity but as a friend; my desire is to know, whether on any account it would be unpleasant to you4 to have your name enrolled with that of Prince Alexander Galitzin, in the records of our Society. Nothing I think will prevent such an election but the delicacy of doing it without your consent, and the possibility that you might disapprove the measure. By only giving your name in Such a cause you may be an instrument of turning the scale in favor of peace, so seasonably as to save the lives of5 many thousands of your fellow beings who would otherwise perish in unprofitable conflicts.   With great respect.

Noah Worcester

P.S. I inclose a copy of our Constitution that you may judge of our object.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ. RC (Mrs. T. Wilber Chelf, Mrs. Virginius Dabney, and Mrs. Alexander W. Parker, Richmond, 1944; photocopy in ViU: TJP); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Patrick Gibson, 15 Nov. 1817, on verso; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; franked by Worcester as postmaster; postmarked Brighton, 23 Oct. Dft (MHi: Worcester Papers); endorsed by Worcester, with his additional notation: “The answer given to Rev. Mr. Durfee Dedham 1844.” Recorded in SJL as received 3 Nov. 1817. Enclosures: (1) Massachusetts Peace Society’s correspondence with Russian emperor Alexander I and Aleksandr N. Golitsyn, consisting of Worcester to Alexander, Brighton, 9 Apr. 1817, acknowledging the emperor’s “friendly disposition which you have manifested in favour of the Christian religion and the peace of the world” and introducing the Massachusetts Peace Society as well as other similar American peace societies; Alexander’s response, Saint Petersburg, 4 July 1817, approving of the objectives of the Massachusetts Peace Society; Worcester to Golitsyn, Brighton, 9 Apr. 1817, noting Golitsyn’s position as “President of the Russian Bible Society” and introducing the Massachusetts Peace Society; Golitsyn’s response, Saint Petersburg, 4 July 1817, emphasizing the importance of Bible and peace societies in promoting “universal peace” and stating that “I shall reckon it a peculiar honour to be among the members of such a humane society”; and concluding with a notice that the correspondence was read at a 25 Sept. 1817 meeting of the trustees of the society and ordered to be published, with a request that newspaper editors promote the cause of peace by reprinting it (printed circular in DLC: TJ Papers, 211:37685–6; undated; at head of text: “INTELLIGENCE” and “correspondence between the massachusetts peace society and the emperor of russia and prince gallitzin”; reprinted in Christian Disciple 5 [1817]: 315–6, Boston Daily Advertiser, 9 Oct. 1817, and elsewhere). (2) Constitution of the Massachusetts Peace Society, stating that the society’s goal is to end all wars; providing for the government and membership of the society in eleven numbered articles; and adding that as of this publication in June 1817, “the second year of the Society,” subscribers who pay $1 annually shall receive up to five copies of the society’s publications at the wholesale price (printed circular in DLC: TJ Papers, 211:37684, 37687; partially dated).

TJ called war the greatest of human evils in his 29 Jan. 1816 letter to Worcester.

1In Dft Worcester here interlined “believing it to be agreeable to his desire.”

2Preceding three words reworked in Dft from “our country.”

3Reworked in Dft from “great.”

4Preceding two words not in Dft.

5Preceding three words interlined in Dft.

Index Entries

  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; and Massachusetts Peace Society search
  • Durfee, Calvin search
  • Golitsyn, Aleksandr Nikolayevich; and Massachusetts Peace Society search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Massachusetts Peace Society; constitution of search
  • Massachusetts Peace Society; correspondence of search
  • Massachusetts Peace Society; TJ as honorary member of search
  • Monroe, James; presidency of search
  • peace advocacy; and Massachusetts Peace Society search
  • peace advocacy; and N. Worcester search
  • Society for the Promotion of Universal and Permanent Peace search
  • Worcester, Noah; as peace advocate search
  • Worcester, Noah; letters from search
  • Worcester, Noah; sends works to TJ search