Thomas Jefferson Papers

John L. Meredith to Thomas Jefferson, 14 May 1819

From John L. Meredith

Urbana, Ohio, 14th May 1819.—

Venerable sir,

Being a personal stranger to you, it may be considered presumption in me to address you, but considering the motives that induce it, am in hopes that you will pardon my boldness.

I have had in contemplation for some time, in concert with Mr Isaac Walker, (a Qr blood,) his father, (a white man) & his mother (a half) of the once powerful Wyandot nation of Indians, to prepare for publication, the numerous, and curious traditions of those people, respecting their origin, the different changes in their mode of government, their Kings with their laws, the reasons for dethroning the monarchs & establish a government on Republican principles,—their ancient & present modes of warfare, causes of War, with their Wars, with other Red powers, & the Whites, their ancient means, (as well as modern) of carrying on War.—their manner of making peace,—with a traditional and oral biography of their most distinguished men, ancients &c—Ideas of the remains of animals now extinct—& the ancient fortifications that are found in this and the adjoining states,—their possessions, disposal of the same—and a general outline of the Costume, manners & Customs.—Religious Exercises, ideas of Deity, Anecdotes &c &c

But I do not wish to attempt such a thing, without the opinion of some distinguished member of our happy Republic;—and knowing of no one, more worthy, or more esteemed for opinions on such matters than yourself,—I have to request of your goodness to inform me as early as convenient, your thoughts on the subject. for if you deem it worthy of publication, I wish to commence the thing immediately.—   With the highest regard, I subscribe myself

Yr obt Servt

John L. Meredith

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at head of text: “Honl Thomas Jefferson Esq”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 June 1819 and so recorded (with mistaken composition date of 19 May 1819) in SJL.

John L. Meredith represented Champaign County in the Ohio House of Representatives, 1821–22 (Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Ohio; being the first session of the twentieth general assembly [Columbus, 1821], 65; Journal of the House of Representatives. of the State of Ohio; being the second session of the Twentieth General Assembly [Columbus, 1822], 3; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ohio, Urbana, 1820).

Meredith sent John Adams a similar letter on 5 Aug. 1819 (MHi: Adams Papers).

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; and Wyandot Indians search
  • Indians, American; Wyandot search
  • Meredith, John L.; identified search
  • Meredith, John L.; letter from search
  • Meredith, John L.; proposed work on Wyandot Indians search
  • Walker, Isaac; family of search
  • Walker, Isaac; proposed work on Wyandot Indians search
  • Wyandot Indians search