Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Lewis D. Belair, 10 May 1818

To Lewis D. Belair

Monticello May 10. 18.


I lately recieved from mr Fernagus de Gelone the inclosed list of books which he desired me to forward to you after perusal. I see nothing on it which I would desire at this time, except Quenon Dictionn. Grec Francois 8vo which if among the books he sends to you I should be glad to recieve, or if you can get him to send it to you. he says he is about forwarding to you a large parcel of foreign books. if you should make a catalogue of them I should be glad of an early receipt of one. I salute you with respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of portion of reused address cover of Daniel Brent to TJ, 19 Feb. 1818; at foot of text: “Mr Lewis D. Belair. bookseller No 96. Broadway N.Y.”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure not found.

Lewis Descoins Belair (ca. 1792–1875), bookseller, was born to French émigrés shortly after they fled Saint Domingue. He settled in Philadelphia by 1816 and operated bookshops specializing in foreign works there and in New York City by 1818. Belair was among the French immigrants who invested in the Vine and Olive Colony, which received a congressional land grant in 1817 in present-day Alabama. While returning from a visit to his 480-acre tract in 1822, Belair stopped at Monticello during one of TJ’s absences. He never settled in Alabama and eventually sold the land. Belair later served as a justice of the peace in Philadelphia County. At his death he left his family bequests totaling $128,000, with an additional $24,000 plus the “residue of the estate” going to eight charitable organizations in Philadelphia, including the Apprentices’ Library and the French Benevolent Society (James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1816 [Philadelphia, 1816]; New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 14 July 1818; Belair to TJ, 6 Nov. 1818, 24 Aug. 1822; Kent Gardien, “The Domingan Kettle: Philadelphian-Émigré Planters in Alabama,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 76 [1998]: 173–87, esp. 184; Rafe Blaufarb, Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815–1835 [2005], 25, 166, 190; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Public Lands, 5:16, 26; Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [1837], 3:566; Philadelphia Inquirer, 16, 18, 29 Oct. 1875).

Index Entries

  • Belair, Lewis Descoins; as bookseller search
  • Belair, Lewis Descoins; identified search
  • Belair, Lewis Descoins; letters to search
  • books; dictionaries search
  • Dictionnaire Grec-François, dédié a son altesse sérénissime Le Prince Cambacérès, archichancelier de l’empire (J. Quenon) search
  • Fernagus De Gelone, Jean Louis; as bookseller search
  • French language; dictionaries search
  • Greek language; lexicons search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; catalogues from booksellers search
  • Quenon, Jean; Dictionnaire Grec-François, dédié a son altesse sérénissime Le Prince Cambacérès, archichancelier de l’empire search