Thomas Jefferson Papers

Horatio G. Spafford to Thomas Jefferson, 5 April 1819

From Horatio G. Spafford

Spafford, Venango County, Pa., 4 Mo. 5, 1819.

Esteemed Friend—

Thy evening of life is an object of general concern, amongst all those who are attached to Republican principles. I would not lightly obtrude upon its repose—for I feel towards thee a veneration I have never known towards any other person. But I desire permission to say, confidentially, that I have in contemplation, should I survive thee, to write a History of thy Life, on a scale of brevity, suitable for a Class Book, in our better sort of Schools. This design I have not rashly formed, nor without a due reflection on the objects proposed to be accomplished by it. To no other Man is our country indebted for so large a portion of our temporal blessings. To thee, more, by far, than any other, do we owe our pure Republicanism in doctrine. Our second era, not less critical than the first, is the work of thy mind: the preservation of our Liberties, from 1799 to 1800, was not less difficult than from 1776 to 1780!

May I then, avowing my intention, ask of thee to turn thy thoughts to my object, & to give me such aid as may seem to thee consistent? If thou wilt make a Memorandum for me, of such papers as I may consult; & even direct my weak judgement—I should be very thankful for the favor. I could wish the privilege to have access to certain papers of thine, for historical purposes—or a donation of such as could conveniently be spared me for my purpose. And I am free to ask a copy of such of thy writings as may be at hand.

I pray thee excuse this intrusion—& accept assurances of my most profound esteem, with best wishes for thy health & happiness.1

Horatio Gates Spafford.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 3 May 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 211:37596); address cover only; with TJ’s Notes on Virginia Statutes on River Navigation, [before 9 June 1819], on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, LL.D. Monticello”; franked; postmarked Spafford, 5 Apr.

1Manuscript: “happinss.”

Index Entries

  • books; biographical on TJ search
  • books; school textbooks search
  • education; textbooks search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; biographies of search
  • schools and colleges; textbooks for search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters from search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; on TJ search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; proposed biography of TJ by search