Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Tilghman to Thomas Jefferson, 26 March 1818

From William Tilghman

Philada 26. March 1818

I have the honour, Sir, of presenting to you, an Eulogium on the late Doctor Wistar, delivered at the Request of the American Philosophical Society. I do not flatter myself, that my performance has done Justice to the subject—Yet I thought it might not be unacceptable to you, being an honest effort to represent faithfully the character of a man, highly esteemed by all, & honoured, not undeservedly, with your friendship—Permit me, at the same time, to embrace the opportunity of repeating the thanks, offered from time to time by mr Du Ponceau, for your valuable communications to the historical committee, & of assuring you of the high Respect,

with which I have the honour to be yr obt Servt

Wm Tilghman

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 2 Apr. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Thomas Appleton, 4 Apr. 1818, on recto and verso; addressed: “Honble Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia.” Enclosure: Tilghman, An Eulogium in commemoration of Doctor Caspar Wistar (Philadelphia, 1818; probably Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 163]).

William Tilghman (1756–1827), attorney and public official, was a native of Talbot County, Maryland, who relocated to Philadelphia as a youth and was educated there. He graduated from the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) in 1772. A Loyalist during the American Revolution, Tilghman spent the conflict in seclusion on his family’s estate in Maryland, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1783. He supported the new federal constitution at the state’s ratification convention in 1788, sat for Kent County in the Maryland House of Delegates, 1788–90, and represented the Eastern Shore in the Maryland Senate, 1791–94. Tilghman returned to Philadelphia by 1794 and continued his legal career. President John Adams appointed him a circuit court judge in March 1801, and he served until the office was abolished early the following year. Governor Thomas McKean named Tilghman a judge of the state court of common pleas in 1805 and, a year later, appointed him chief justice of the Pennsylvania supreme court, a position he held for the remainder of his life. He arranged in 1811 to free his slaves and was, in addition, a longtime member of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, a canal enthusiast, a supporter of American manufacturing, and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, 1802–27. In 1805 Tilghman was elected to the American Philosophical Society, an organization that he served as vice president, 1816–25, and president, 1825–27. He died in Philadelphia (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Edward C. Papenfuse and others, eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789 [1979–85], 2:833–4; University of Pennsylvania Catalogue description begins Will J. Maxwell, comp., General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania, 1917 description ends , 20; Papenfuse, Maryland Public Officials description begins Edward C. Papenfuse and others, eds., An Historical List of Public Officials of Maryland, 1990– , 1 vol. description ends , 1:519; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 19 Apr. 1805, 5 Jan. 1816, 7 Jan. 1825 [MS in PPAmP]; Peter S. Du Ponceau, Eulogium in commemoration of the honourable William Tilghman, LL.D. [1827]; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 1 May 1827; gravestone inscription in Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society, Historical and Literary Committee; TJ sends works to search
  • American Philosophical Society; and C. Wistar search
  • An Eulogium in commemoration of Doctor Caspar Wistar (W. Tilghman) search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; and Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; sends books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; sends manuscripts search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Tilghman, William; and American Philosophical Society search
  • Tilghman, William; An Eulogium in commemoration of Doctor Caspar Wistar search
  • Tilghman, William; identified search
  • Tilghman, William; letter from search
  • Wistar, Caspar; eulogies for search