Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jonas Horwitz to Thomas Jefferson, 12 January [1819]

From Jonas Horwitz

Philadelphia Jan 12th 1818 [1819]


judge Thos Cooper, informed me, that when in Virginia, he mentioned my name to you as professor, of Oriental literature, in the College of Charlotte-Ville under your auspices; & that you replied to him; if it could be joined with the German language, such a professorship might be instituted.

This induces me, to take the liberty of addressing you, the German is my Vernacular-tongue; & am not only master of it, but have actually now in my possession, a manuscript of a German Grammar, which I composed some years ago {an1 abridgement of Adelung the Johnson of Germany} for the use of Englishmen

Respecting the Hebrew &c. the enclosed proposals; & its recommendations which were written 7 years since may speak for themselves; but if required, I can obtain a letter of recommendation, signed by most of the Clergy, Advocates; & other literary Characters of this City; & I may say of almost half the Union {who had attended my lectures} in favour of both my talent for teaching, & proficiency in Oriental learning.

should it meet with your approbation, to have such a professorship in the Central College; & should you think me worthy of the station, you will oblige; & honour me much by answering this.

In hopes that this may find you in the best of health I have the honor to be   sir!   very respectfully—

Your Most Obt:

J, Horwitz

RC (ViU: TJP); misdated; at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson Esqr Monticello Va”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 12 Jan. 1819 received five days later and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: prospectus by Horwitz for a Hebrew Bible, [Philadelphia, before 1 Aug. 1813], decrying the scarcity of Hebrew-language bibles in the United States; commending the superior qualities of that of Everardus van der Hooght; proposing to publish an American edition of that work “without the points” (marks indicating vowels, repeated or varied consonants, punctuation, and pronunciation); announcing that it will be printed by William Fry on superfine paper using “a new pica Hebrew type” cast by Binny & Ronaldson and will cost $15 for a set of two octavo volumes; offering a discount on bulk purchases by educational institutions; including three testimonials for Horwitz and his project dated 5 Mar., 5 and 8 May 1812 by prominent clergy in Philadelphia and New York; requesting that subscriptions be returned by 1 Aug. 1813 to Thomas Dobson in Philadelphia; advertising other works by Dobson; and concluding with a sample page from the book of Genesis in Hebrew (printed text in ViU; undated).

Jonas Horwitz (1783–1852), physician and educator, was born in Berlin. He arrived in the United States in 1810, petitioned for citizenship in 1812, and in the following year advertised an evening school in Philadelphia at which he taught Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic. Horwitz received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1815 and practiced medicine in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1816, and at a dispensary for the poor in Philadelphia in 1818. He continued to teach Hebrew in various locations, including the environs of Washington, D.C., 1819–20, and Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1822. Horwitz unsuccessfully petitioned to teach languages at Central College and in 1821 visited TJ at Monticello. By 1827 he had settled permanently in Baltimore, where he established a medical practice. Horwitz joined a unit of volunteer soldiers as a surgeon during the Mexican-American War. In 1850 he owned real estate valued at $10,000 (Jacob Rader Marcus, United States Jewry 1776–1985 [1989], 1:360–2, 376; Horwitz’s naturalization records, 8 May 1812 [DNA: RG 21, NPEDP]; Philadelphia Democratic Press, 25 Oct. 1813; University of Pennsylvania Catalogue description begins Will J. Maxwell, comp., General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania, 1917 description ends , 575; Lexington, Ky., Western Monitor, 28 June 1816; Rules and Regulations of the Northern Dispensary. for the Medical Relief of the Poor [(Philadelphia, 1818)], 12; John Adems Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1819 [Philadelphia, 1819]; Samuel L. Mitchill to TJ, 4 May 1819; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 15, 20 Nov. 1819; Boston Daily Advertiser, 24 Nov. 1819; Alexandria Gazette & Daily Advertiser, 13, 17 Jan. 1820; TJ to Frederick W. Hatch, 9 Sept. 1821; Hatch to TJ, [received 10 Sept. 1821]; Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazette, 25 Oct. 1822; Eugene Fauntleroy Cordell, The Medical Annals of Maryland, 1799–1899 [1903], 443–4; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 28 Apr. 1830, 28 Mar. 1831; DNA: RG 29, CS, Md., Baltimore, 1830–50; Horwitz, A Defence of the Cosmogony of Moses [(1838)]; Matchett’s Baltimore Director [1831]: 187; [1851]: 133; Baltimore Sun, 1 July 1852).

Horwitz transferred the publishing rights to the project described in the enclosure to Dobson, who completed it (תורה נביאים וכתובים. Biblia Hebraica, 2 vols. [Philadelphia, 1814], with unpaginated note on publication history).

In a letter presumably given to TJ by Thomas cooper during his autumn 1818 visit to Monticello, Horwitz asked Cooper to recommend him for a professorship of Oriental literature at Central College if the school “is intended to have the same standing {if not superior}” as Harvard, Yale, and the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), all of which have such teaching positions and whose faculty, as well as “almost all the Clergy, besides many other literary Characters in the Eastern, Middle, & Western states have received the benefits of my instruction” (Horwitz to Cooper, Philadelphia, 11 Sept. 1818 [RC in ViU: TJP; addressed: “Thomas Cooper M.D. &C.”; endorsed by TJ: “Horwitz J. to be Hebrew Professor”]).

1Inconsistent opening angle bracket editorially changed to a brace, here and below.

Index Entries

  • Adelung, Friedrich; works of search
  • Bible; Hebrew language search
  • Binny & Ronaldson (Philadelphia firm); as typefounders search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and J. Horwitz’s application for professorship search
  • Cooper, Thomas; visits Monticello search
  • Dobson, Thomas; as publisher search
  • Fry, William; as printer search
  • German language; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Hebrew language; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Hebrew language; Bible in search
  • Horwitz, Jonas; and Hebrew-language Bible search
  • Horwitz, Jonas; identified search
  • Horwitz, Jonas; letter from search
  • Horwitz, Jonas; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Johnson, Samuel; F. Adelung compared to search
  • language; Hebrew search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Cooper, Thomas search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • van der Hooght, Everardus; Bible of search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • תורה נביאים וכתובים. Biblia Hebraica search