Thomas Jefferson Papers

Gerard Troost to Thomas Jefferson, 21 July 1818

From Gerard Troost

Capesable July 21t 1818—


I have the honor to transmit you two books one of Mr Faujas de St Fond and the other of Dr Kesteloot with a letter of Mr Thoúin. having been Captured at Sea—and having been Subjected to other disasters of war, are the reasons why I was not able to forward them Sooner as I only receive them this Spring.

It is only by accident that I can Send you this works put under my care; it was not my original intention to remain in this Country; I was Sent by Louis King of Holland to the Island of Java; but finding at that time no opportunity to leave this country and the Island being take afterwards by the Brittish, I abandoned that project and have established myself in Philadelphia where I have erected a chemical laboratory which has andswered very well my expectations—have also erected the first and at present the only factury of Alum in the United States at the Magothy river near Annapolis Maryland—and am resolved to Spend the rest of my life in this happy Country—

I anticipated the pleasure of presenting these books to you personally but owing to the nature of my occupation which reqúires my unremitted attention at this time, the Alum establishment having been burnd Down lately, I am deprived of that Satisfaction and have to resort to the usual mode of conveyance by letter—

One of my friends Dr Julius Ducatel is ere long going to Europe he will Spend Some time in Paris, and will See Mr Faujas, Thoúin and other Scientific men, he will with pleasure convey any commands You will charge him with—He will leave this Country the middel of August next—In case You please to favoure him with any. Letters directed to Dr Juliús Ducatel Baltimore will come at hand—

I have the honor to be respectfully—

Sir Your most obedient Servant

G. Troost

RC (MHi); at head of text: “The honorable Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Sept. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Jacob L. Kesteloot to TJ, 6 Nov. 1809, and enclosure. (2) Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond to TJ, [ca. Nov. 1809], and enclosure. (3) André Thoüin to TJ, 20 Mar. 1810. Enclosed in Julius T. Ducatel to TJ, 3 Aug. 1818.

Gerard Troost (1776–1850), scientist, was a native of Holland who obtained medical and pharmaceutical training through apprenticeships at Leiden and Amsterdam. His wide-ranging interests included geology, and in 1807 Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland, appointed him to assemble a royal mineral collection. In preparation for that mission Troost studied crystallography with René Just Haüy and geology with Abraham Gottlob Werner, and he originally planned to join a scientific expedition to Java but instead settled in Philadelphia in 1810. He became the first president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1812, and he was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1816. Troost was also involved in an unsuccessful effort to establish an alum manufactory in Maryland. By 1821 he was teaching mineralogy at the Philadelphia Museum and chemistry at the Philadelphia College of Apothecaries (later the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy). In 1825 Troost joined Robert Owen, William Maclure, Thomas Say, and Charles Alexandre Lesueur in an attempt to establish a utopian society at New Harmony, Indiana. Two years later the society was struggling and Troost moved his family to Nashville, where until his death he served as a professor at the University of Nashville. He was also appointed the first state geologist for Tennessee, held the post for many years, and was responsible for the first geological map of the state. Although Troost published extensively during his lifetime, his final work on the fossil crinoids of Tennessee, which he had submitted to the Smithsonian Institution for publication just before his death, lingered for decades in the hands of the reviewer James Hall, who plagiarized some of his work. The research was not released under Troost’s name until 1909 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1970–80, 16 vols. description ends ; Leonidas C. Glenn, “Gerard Troost,” American Geologist 35 [1905]: 72–94; Joseph W. England, ed., The First Century of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, 1821–1921 [1922], 63–8, 397; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 19 Jan. 1816 [MS in PPAmP]; Philadelphia Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences 2 [1821]: 207; Public Acts passed at the stated session of the Nineteenth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee [1832], 43–4; Richmond Enquirer, 27 Aug. 1850; Elvira Wood, “A Critical Summary of Troost’s Unpublished Manuscript on the Crinoids of Tennessee,” Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum, Bulletin 64 [1909]: v–150).

Index Entries

  • alum; manufacture of search
  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Bonaparte, Louis, king of Holland; rule of search
  • Discours sur les Progrès des Sciences, Lettres et Arts (ed. J. L. Kesteloot) search
  • Ducatel, Julius Timoleon; and TJ’s correspondence search
  • Essai de Géologie (Faujas de Saint-Fond) search
  • Faujas de Saint-Fond, Barthélemy; as botanist search
  • Faujas de Saint-Fond, Barthélemy; Essai de Géologie search
  • household articles; alum search
  • Institut de France; Discours sur les Progrès des Sciences, Lettres et Arts (ed. J. L. Kesteloot) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Kesteloot, Jacob Lodewijk; editsDiscours sur les Progrès des Sciences, Lettres et Arts search
  • The Netherlands; Bonaparte, Louis (king) search
  • Thoüin, André; as director of Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle search
  • Troost, Gerard; forwards publication to TJ search
  • Troost, Gerard; identified search
  • Troost, Gerard; letter from search
  • Troost, Gerard; on his life in U.S. search