Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Dugald Stewart, 21 December 1818

To Dugald Stewart

Monticello in Virga Dec. 21. 18.

Dear Sir

The bearer of this letter is mr Preston, son of the present Governor of Virginia. he is not known to me personally; but my assurances are from such a source as secure me in taking on myself to vouch for his worth and correctness of conduct and character. he proposes to pass the present winter in Edinburgh and wishes of course to be known to those whose characters have given them eminence abroad as well as at home.

we are now in the 30th year since we witnessed together in Paris the commencement of those tremendous scenes which have since convulsed that fine country, and, we may say indeed all Europe. time however has had no effect in lessening my esteem for you, nor my sense of your high claims on the friends of science. in asking therefore for mr Preston the privilege of presenting [hims]elf to you, I profit of the same occasion of recalling myself to your friendly recollection, and of tendering you the assurance of my unabated esteem and high respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of Patrick Gibson to TJ, 24 Sept. 1818; torn at seal, with two words rewritten by TJ; at foot of text: “Dugald Stewart esquire”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosed in TJ to Francis Preston, 21 Dec. 1818.

Dugald Stewart (1753–1828), philosopher and educator, was born in Edinburgh and studied at the university there before attending philosophy lectures at the University of Glasgow, 1771–72. He took over his father’s mathematics courses at the University of Edinburgh the latter year and was promoted to the chair in that discipline in 1775. Stewart also started teaching moral philosophy in 1778, transferred to that chair in 1785, and held it until 1816, although he retired from lecturing in 1810. In the 1800–01 academic session he began to offer a private class on political economy. Stewart was a popular and influential lecturer and writer who made major contributions to the field of epistemology and influenced the development of philosophy curricula in Europe and the United States. TJ met him in France in 1788 or 1789 and successfully nominated him for membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1791. Stewart died in Edinburgh (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ; Sir William Hamilton, ed., The Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, 11 vols. [1854–60; repr. 1994]; 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 , 13:241–2, 14:648, 15:204–5, 29:415; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 21 Oct. 1791 [MS in PPAmP]; Stewart, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind [London, 1792 and 1827 (vols. 1 and 3); Edinburgh, 1814 (vol. 2); Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1244; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 8 (no. 456)]; Edinburgh Caledonian Mercury, 14 June 1828).

William C. Preston, the bearer, was the son of Francis Preston and nephew of Governor James P. Preston.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of, foreign search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search
  • Preston, Francis; family of search
  • Preston, James Patton; as governor of Va. search
  • Preston, William Campbell; TJ introduces search
  • Stewart, Dugald; identified search
  • Stewart, Dugald; letter to search
  • Stewart, Dugald; TJ introduces W. C. Preston to search