Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Willson Peale to Thomas Jefferson, 25 November 1818

From Charles Willson Peale

Washington Novr 25th 1818.

My dear Sir

Some time past I meet with a gentleman in the Museum who informed me of your extreme indisposition, and from his account of your complaints, I dispaired of ever writing to you another letter, while painting the Presidents Portrait I received the pleasing intelligence of your restored health. Your emminant Labours for the good of mankind will endear your memory to future ages. I will give a feeling trait, when I had heard of your danger of leaving us, I mentioned the account to a gentleman, I well know by a former conversation, that he was not your friend, his reply to me was that he was exceeding sorry, which he uttered feelingly. I came to this city with the intention of painting a few portraits of the most distinguished characters for the Museum and to shew that the aged by application can improove in the fine Arts, and, also to know whether the United States would purchase my Museum at a fair price, and established it on a permanant foundation. I am anxious to preserve it from a division in case of my death. The Stadt-house will not admit of our improvment of the Museum, for we cannot find room to put any interresting articles that we possess at this moment, and as it is, it is too much of a medley. I have no space to put my late Portraits, yet that, shall not discourage me, as I love the art and know that it is the best imployment of my time. before I leave this place I purpose to give you some account of the portraits I shall have painted, in a hope that it may not be fateagueing to read my scroles, as I mean to be concise. may you have yet length of days—ah! I have just thought of telling you that I have heard of an African living in Georgetown that is said to be 140 years of age, I mean to see him & paint his Portrait—with much esteem

and respect I am ever your friend

C W Peale

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 8 Dec. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to John C. Calhoun, 4 Apr. 1819, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticella Virginia”; franked; postmarked Washington, 27 Nov. PoC (PPAmP: Peale Letterbook).

stadt-house: “city hall”; the Pennsylvania State House (later known as Independence Hall). The african living in georgetown and later painted by Peale was a former slave named Yarrow Mamout (Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, 1983– , 5 vols. in 6 description ends , 3:617, 650–2).

Index Entries

  • African-Americans; portraits of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; illness of search
  • Mamout, Yarrow; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Monroe, James; C. W. Peale paints search
  • museums; Philadelphia Museum search
  • paintings; and C. W. Peale search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; and Philadelphia Museum search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; letters from search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; portraits by search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; visits Washington, D.C. search
  • Pennsylvania State House (Philadelphia; later Independence Hall) search
  • Philadelphia Museum; paintings in search