Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jeremiah Greenleaf to Thomas Jefferson, 23 June 1819

From Jeremiah Greenleaf

Guilford Vermont June 23d 1819

Dear Sir,

I have compiled a Short Treatise1 on the Science of English Grammar, the Sheets of which you will herewith recieve; and in which you will percieve that I have endeavored to Simplify, and bring within the compass of the learner, in abstract, all the elementary principles of this indispensible branch of learning.

Literary gentlemen, and professors of Language, to whom I have submitted it, have been pleased to express their approbation of the plan and design of the work.

In transmitting these Sheets for your inspection, I am but too sensible, that I assume more than is suitable for a person occupying so humble a station in the Republick of Letters. But in you Sir, I have always learnt to behold the most efficent patron of the literature as well as the liberties of my Country; and cannot, therfore, but hope that this, my first effort, will be viewed by you with benificent regard—With being, at least, well intended, to facilitate the acquisition of the first rudiments of a Language, destined to be wider spread, and more Spoken than any other on Earth; and thus to become the favored medium of communicating that general science, that virtue, and that morality, without which we have your authority in saying, that a great Republican community, cannot long practically exist.

with Sentiments of profound consideration,

I am, Excellent Sir, your Obedent humble Servant

Jeremiah Greenleaf

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 4 July 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (ViW: TC-JP); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to John H. Rice, 29 Dec. 1820, on verso; addressed (one word editorially corrected): “Thomas Jefferson, Esqui[r]e, late President of the U. States Monticello—Va”; franked; postmarked Guilford, 25 June. Enclosure: Greenleaf, Grammar Simplified; or, an Ocular Analysis of the English Language (Brattleboro, Vt., 1819).

Jeremiah Greenleaf (1791–1864), author and educator, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. He served in the 31st Infantry Regiment of the United States Army during the War of 1812, rising from ensign in 1813 to 2d lieutenant the following year. After the publication of his Grammar Simplified, which went through numerous editions, Greenleaf traveled extensively throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England states teaching grammar. He published several other works on the subject, as well as a gazetteer, an atlas, and a beginner’s guide to Latin. Greenleaf settled permanently in Guilford, Vermont, where his estate was valued at $2,700 in 1860 (James Edward Greenleaf, comp., Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family [1896], 114, 176, 267; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:476; New Haven Connecticut Journal, 12 Oct. 1819; New York Mercantile Advertiser, 29 Nov. 1819; New-York Daily Advertiser, 25 Apr. 1820; Bridgeton, N.J., Washington Whig, 6 Nov. 1824; Boston Commercial Gazette, 20 June 1825; Portland, Maine, Eastern Argus, 4 Jan. 1828; Salem [Mass.] Gazette, 17 June 1828; Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette, 11 Feb. 1840; DNA: RG 29, CS, Vt., Guilford, 1860; Montpelier Vermont Watchman & State Journal, 29 Apr. 1864).

Greenleaf sent the enclosure to John Adams on 24 June 1819 (MHi: Adams Papers).

1Manuscript: “Tratise.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; works sent to search
  • books; on grammar search
  • English language; books on grammar of search
  • Grammar Simplified; or, an Ocular Analysis of the English Language (J. Greenleaf) search
  • Greenleaf, Jeremiah; Grammar Simplified; or, an Ocular Analysis of the English Language search
  • Greenleaf, Jeremiah; identified search
  • Greenleaf, Jeremiah; letter from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books and Library; works sent to search