Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Young to Thomas Jefferson, 20 January 1819

From William Young

Boston Jany. 20th 1819.—

Respected Friend,

The mention of your name in print, or conversation, always affords me a peculiar pleasure; and am always ready to defend your well merited fame, whenever I hear it called in question. But, my Honoured Friend, there is one thing, for which I am in want of data, when the subject is mentioned, and on which, I have heretofore ventured to presume:—It is, your opinion of the sacred writings, and the character of Jesus Christ, “The Saviour of Sinners”?

You have now arrived at a good old age,—have read “many books,”—have seen much of men in [var]ious situations of human nature,—and must now, from your accumulated experience, “be no longer in doubt, between two opinions.”

The last words of Dr Franklin, to a young man, were in favour of the truth of Divine Revelation. Washington! Newton! and other great minds, were in favour of the truth of the claims of “The Holy Bible”!—Will you favour me; by sparing from your scientific labours, and literary pleasures; one hours writing in a letter on this subject?

What are your views of the claims of The Bible, as being a Divine Revelation, from the Supreme Being by the inspiration of the prophets &c. And the character of Jesus Christ, as the Saviour of men, fro[m] the guilt and punishment, due for the transgressio[ns] of the law of God, according to the doctrins of the Apostles of the religion of Christ?—

The above favour will be very highly esteemed by yours &c very Respectfully.

William Young

RC (MHi); dateline beneath signature; mutilated at seal and edge trimmed; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Jan. 1819, with his additional bracketed notation: “fanatic,” and so recorded in SJL.

A William Young was active as a gilder in Boston between 1820 and 1827 (The Boston Directory [1820]: 227; [1827]: 292).

When Yale College president Ezra Stiles queried him near the end of his life about his religious views, Benjamin franklin responded that he believed that God created the universe but that, although the moral and religious systems of Jesus were the best in the world, he had doubts as to his divinity (Franklin to Stiles, 9 Mar. 1790 [CtY: Stiles Papers]).

Index Entries

  • Christianity; TJ’s opinion on sought search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; and religion search
  • Newton, Sir Isaac; religious beliefs of search
  • Stiles, Ezra; and B. Franklin search
  • Washington, George; religious beliefs of search
  • Young, William; identified search
  • Young, William; letter from search
  • Young, William; solicits TJ’s opinion on religion search