Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James W. Wallace, 30 October 1817

To James W. Wallace

Monticello Oct. 30. 17.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 10th has been peculiarly acceptable after so long a pause of communication between us. it brought to me also the renewed assurance of your recollection in the renewal of attention to my little collection of curiosities. it happens that when I employed persons to explore the big bone lick for me, a number of the teeth you describe were found. I sent some of them to the Philosoph. society of Philadelphia, some to the National Institute of France, and retain several. they are pronounced to be the teeth of a genuine elephant, & the species of the1 American elephant is now added to those of Asia & africa. it is supposed extinct altho early writers mention it both in N. & S. America. it is clearly distinct from what we have called the Mammoth, & Cuvier has denominated the Mastodont.

I am entirely occupied with the establishment of our Cent[ral] College, towards which we expect we have subscriptions to the amount of about 50,000.D. this will enable us to establish 3. professors on perpetual funds, & if these can recieve an addition of 25,000 D. more it will give us a 4th and enable us to embrace all the useful sciences. we are [d]etermined2 to have professors of the first order only, and to get them from Europe if not to be found in America. the building for the Professorship of languages will be completed & opened in April. that for Chemistry, botany, zoology, mineralogy Etc & law about midsummer, and we are not without a hope that the legislature will adopt it for their University, and by the aid of the ample funds they have provided enable us to make it the most complete in the US. I salute you with constant and affectionate esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; torn at seal; at foot of text: “Dr Wallace”; endorsed by TJ.

philosoph. society: the American Philosophical Society.

1Preceding three words interlined.

2Word faint.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; TJ donates fossils to search
  • Big Bone Lick, Ky.; fossils acquired from search
  • botany; collegiate education in search
  • Central College; as state university of Va. search
  • Central College; construction of search
  • Central College; establishment of search
  • Central College; professors for search
  • Central College; subscription for search
  • chemistry; collegiate education in search
  • Cuvier, Georges; and mammoth bones search
  • elephants; compared to mammoths search
  • fossils; in Ky. search
  • fossils; TJ’s collection of search
  • Institut de France; TJ and C. Wistar give fossils to search
  • Kentucky; mammoth bones found in search
  • language; collegiate education in search
  • mammoth; bones of found in Ky. search
  • mammoth; compared to elephants search
  • mammoth; G. Cuvier on search
  • mammoth; in hall at Monticello search
  • mammoth; tooth impressions sent to TJ search
  • mastodon (mammoth, Ohio); G. Cuvier on search
  • mineralogy; collegiate education in search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Entrance Hall search
  • subscriptions, non-publication; for Central College/ University of Virginia search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Wallace, James Westwood; and mammoth’s tooth search
  • Wallace, James Westwood; letters to search
  • zoology; collegiate education in search