Thomas Jefferson Papers

William S. Jacobs to Thomas Jefferson, 3 July 1818

From William S. Jacobs

St Croix July 3rd 1818


Had death not berefted me of my much esteemed friend & Patron, Doctor Wistar, the Contents of my present respects would ‘ere this have been comunicated to you, but being thus unfortunately deprived I hope from the well Known Kindness of your disposition that you’ll excuse the liberty I thus take

It is now twenty three years past since I resided in the family of that good and great man, where I had frequently the Advantage of being in your Company—I was then engaged in making Anatomical Preparations for the Doctor, which you did me the honor of admiring so much, particularly, the preparations of the Ear, on a large Scale, made of Wax & Stone.—Since the Year 1804 I have resided in the Danish Westindia Islands, extensively engaged in the practice of Physic; my future stay will be on the Island of St Thomas where under present Circumstances the practice is preferable to St Croix, particularly would it be to me so could I be so fortunate as to obtain through your Kind influence the Appointment of American Consul, for which I humbly soliscit your Kindness—This Appointment has been since Mr Harrison was recalled vacant, & by late accounts recd from Philada was yet

St Thomas is the Rendez-vous of the Westindies, sailors from every nation crowd the Streets from morning til night, frequent broils & Quarrells take place, which would allways come under my notice in case of Americans being in the Question so well from my Capacity as a magistrate as well as a Physician & in case of appointed Consul to all certainty the only one for the American, great many Advantages might in my Opinion thereby fall in favor to the American Sailors

Having thus laid my humble Soliscitation for your Interest in my behalf before you, I pray the forgiveness of the liberty thereby taken—which will be ever gratefully acknowledged by

sir Your humble & most Obet Servant.

Wm S. Jacobs. MD—

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of first page: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 26 July 1818 and so recorded in SJL.

William Stephen Jacobs (1772–1843), physician, was born in Brabant. He served in the armies of Austria and France, eventually attaining the rank of assistant surgeon before deserting through the British lines. By 1795 Jacobs settled in Philadelphia. He was quickly integrated into its scientific community and worked as a dissector at the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Caspar Wistar. Jacobs executed chalk drawings of megalonyx claw fossils that became the basis for engravings that appeared, along with articles on the animal by TJ and Wistar, in volume 4 of the American Philosophical Society’s Transactions. In 1801 Jacobs received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. The following year he was admitted to membership in the American Philosophical Society, and he served as librarian of Philadelphia’s Chemical Society, 1801–02. Jacobs published The Student’s Chemical Pocket Companion (Philadelphia, 1802). He moved to Saint Croix in aid of his health in 1803, continued to practice medicine, and died there (William E. Horner, “Obituary Notice of Dr W S. Jacobs of St Croix,” MS in PPAmP: APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends Archives, Memoirs of Deceased Members, 1783–1855; Wyndham Miles, “William Stephen Jacobs,” Journal of Chemical Education 24 [1947]: 249–50; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 41 vols. description ends , 29:xxxix, 300, 39:32–3; Catalogue of the Medical Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania [2d ed., 1839], 41; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 16 July 1802 [MS in PPAmP]; H. Carrington Bolton, “Early American Chemical Societies,” American Chemical Society, Journal 19 [1897]: 718; DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1817–25).

Robert Monroe harrison was appointed United States consul at Saint Thomas in 1816. A disagreement with the Danish governor general over the treatment of American seamen led to Harrison’s recall in 1818. Nathan Levi was next appointed to the consulship there in 1826 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 3:29, 31, 504, 513 [14, 26 Feb. 1816, 17 Feb., 9 Mar. 1826]; Worthington C. Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letterpress Edition, 1892–99, 10 vols. description ends ed., Writings of John Quincy Adams [1913–17], 6:361–3; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 5 June 1818; New York Commercial Advertiser, 10 Sept. 1818).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Denmark; government of search
  • Harrison, Robert Monroe; as U.S. consul at Saint Thomas search
  • Jacobs, William Stephen; as physician search
  • Jacobs, William Stephen; identified search
  • Jacobs, William Stephen; letter from search
  • Jacobs, William Stephen; seeks consular appointment search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Levi, Nathan; as U.S. consul at Saint Thomas search
  • medicine; anatomical models search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Saint Thomas (Danish West Indies); U.S. consulship at search
  • West Indies; U.S. trade with search
  • Wistar, Caspar; anatomical studies of search
  • Wistar, Caspar; death of search