Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Cook to Thomas Jefferson, 20 April 1818

From John Cook

Selma near Leesburg the Seat of my Friend
Genl Armistead T Mason April 20th 1818

Most Excellent Sir

The enclosed Publication which I have the honour to present to you I received very Lately from the Author, now in England, a very near acquaintance and intimate Friend of many Years standing.

Permit me to observe Sir, that this is the only one of a series of numbers which commenced some Years ago and are published annually in England, which has appeared in America.

Having published some Extracts from it in a News Paper [a]greably to the request of the Author, I have with submision to solicit your Excellencys acceptance of the work.

The subject is of a Nature not suited to common readers, yet I have thought that it might afford you amusement for a leisure moment. If such should be the case my intentions will be fully answered.

With sentiments of the highest veneration and most profound respect, and with wishes for your Excellencys long Life, and uninterrupted happiness, I beg leave to subscribe myself your Friend &
Obedient Humble Servt

John Cook

RC (MHi); damaged at seal; notation by TJ at foot of text: “Frend’s Astronom. Amusemts for 1818”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 May 1818 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to John C. Calhoun, 20 July 1818, on verso; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson late President of the United States of America Montecello”; franked; postmarked Leesburg, 21 Apr. Enclosure: William Frend, Evening Amusements; or, the Beauty of the Heavens Displayed. in which Several Striking Appearances, to be observed on various evenings in the Heavens, during the year 1818, are described (London, 1818; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 8 [no. 380]).

John Cook (ca. 1764–1823), merchant and librarian, was born in England and immigrated to the region around Albany, New York, in the 1790s. Having settled in nearby Ballston Spa, he sold the medicinal springwater found there from at least 1806 and, in 1808, established a subscription library. Shortly thereafter Cook moved his operations to Albany, where he continued to sell mineral water and other items and operated a reading room and library with nearly twelve hundred volumes and a wide assortment of newspapers and periodicals. In 1814 he added a “Ladies’ Literary Lounge” for the exclusive use of his female patrons. Six years later Cook obtained a concurrent position as the librarian of the local apprentices’ library. In addition to his other duties he served as the first librarian of the New York State Library from 1818 until his death in Albany (Cecil R. Roseberry, For the Government and People of This State: A History of the New York State Library [1970], 2, 5, 7, 9; University of the State of New York, Bulletin 800 [15 Mar. 1924]: 63–6; Albany Republican Crisis, 12 Mar. 1807; Albany Gazette, 29 Feb. 1808, 19 May 1814; Ballston Spa Independent American, 25 Oct. 1808; Albany Balance, & New-York State Journal, 16 Jan. 1810; Cooperstown Watch-Tower, 25 Aug. 1823).

Cook had extracts from the enclosed work published in the Leesburg Genius of Liberty, 7, 14 Apr. 1818.

Index Entries

  • astronomy; books on search
  • books; on astronomy search
  • Cook, John; and W. Frend’sEvening Amusements search
  • Cook, John; identified search
  • Cook, John; letter from search
  • Evening Amusements; or, the Beauty of the Heavens Displayed (W. Frend) search
  • Frend, William; Evening Amusements; or, the Beauty of the Heavens Displayed search
  • Genius of Liberty (Leesburg newspaper) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • newspapers; LeesburgGenius of Liberty search