Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Willson Peale to Thomas Jefferson, 1 January 1819

From Charles Willson Peale

Washington Jany 1st 1819.

Dear Sir

soon after my arrival here I wrote to inform you of my object in visiting this place, with the hope that my scribling might not be a burden on your precious moments, and as I had said that I would give you some account of my Portraits, Since I begin to think I shall paint only one or two more at the present time, I will enumerate them. Vizt The President, Mr Calhoun, Mr Adams, Mr Crawford, Mr Clay, Coll Johnson, Mr Holmes, Mr Wirt, Mr Rufus King, Comre Porter, and Comre Rogers. Perhaps I may take the Portraits of Mr Tomkins, and the Secy of the Navy Mr Thompson, who are expected here daily. Should Genl Jackson arrive here shortly I may endeavor to obtain the favor of his setting.

Although there are many Gentlemen of Congress who wish the purchase of my Museum, yet I know by my conversation with several others who have not a conception of its Utility, therefore I shall not make an offer of it at this moment. But I am confident that the time will come, when they shall be sorry for having let it slip through their fingers. The education it is capable of diffusing through the mass of Citizens is all important. I have read a maxim of moral truth, “That the attainment of Happiness, Individual as well as Public, depends on the cultivation of the human mind.”

Having laid aside all other persuits, except what may tend to the improvement of the Museum, I hope I may live long enough to place it on a permanant mount.

I conclude with my best wishes for your health and happiness in a length of days, most respectfully your friend

C W Peale

Mr Epps will set to me in a few days.


RC (MHi); lacking postscript; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Jan. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); postscript and address cover only; with PoC of TJ to José Corrêa da Serra, 2 Mar. 1819, on recto and verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticella Virginia”; with postscript beneath and oriented upside down to address; franked; postmarked. PoC (PPAmP: Peale Letterbook); lacking postscript.

that the attainment … human mind loosely quotes the British artist James Barry (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 , 3:614; Barry, An Account of a Series of Pictures, in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, at the Adelphi [London, 1783], 40). In January 1819 TJ’s son-in-law John Wayles Eppes (epps) sat simultaneously for a portrait by Peale and a miniature portrait by his niece Anna Claypoole Peale (Duncan), neither of which is known to survive (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 , 3:684–6).

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; portraits of search
  • Barry, James; quoted search
  • Calhoun, John Caldwell; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Clay, Henry; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Congress, U.S.; proposed offer of Philadelphia Museum to search
  • Crawford, William Harris; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Duncan, Anna Claypoole Peale; miniatures by search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); portraits of search
  • Holmes, David; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Jackson, Andrew; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Johnson, Richard Mentor; C. W. Peale paints search
  • King, Rufus; 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
  • Philadelphia Museum; sale of considered search
  • Porter, David; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Rodgers, John; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Thompson, Smith; C. W. Peale proposes to paint search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; C. W. Peale paints search
  • Wirt, William; C. W. Peale paints search