Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter Force to Thomas Jefferson, 30 July 1819

From Peter Force

Washington, July 30th 1819


I have been requested by the Board of Managers of the “American Colonization Society,” to forward you the enclosed Copies, (of the first and Second editions) of their Second Annual Report.

Very Respectfully, Sir, your most obt servt

Peter Force

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Tho: Jefferson, Esq late President, U. S. Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Oct. 1819 and so recorded (with mistaken 30 Sept. 1819 date of composition and the additional bracketed notation: “Amer. Colonzn soc.”) in SJL. Enclosures: 1st and 2d eds. of The Second Annual Report of the American Society for colonizing the Free People of Colour of the United States. With an Appendix (Washington, 1819; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 9 [no. 487]).

Peter Force (1790–1868), printer and documentary editor, was born in Passaic County, New Jersey, but grew up in New York City. There he learned the printing trade, was president of the New York Typographical Society, 1813–15, and served in the War of 1812. Force moved in 1815 to Washington, D.C., where he continued to work as a printer. He edited and published a semiweekly political newspaper, the National Journal, 1823–30, which added a daily version in 1824. Force also published the annual National Calendar, 1820–24 and 1828–36. He sat on the Washington common council, 1822–24, was an alderman, 1826–33 and 1835, and served as mayor, 1836–39. Force collected historical materials on a grand scale and used them to publish Tracts and Other Papers, relating principally to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America, 4 vols. (1836–46), and an even more ambitious documentary history, American Archives, 9 vols. (1837–53). The latter work ended short of its projected twenty volumes when federal funding was withdrawn. Force sold his collection of manuscripts, pamphlets, newspapers, incunabula, and other archival material to the Library of Congress for $100,000 in 1867. He died in Washington (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Ainsworth R. Spofford, The Life and Labors of Peter Force, Mayor of Washington [1898]; Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, One Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Session, 1912, vol. 12, no. 28, pt. 3 [1912]: 94–7; Wilhelmus B. Bryan, Forms of Local Government in the District of Columbia, with list of Washington city officials appended [1903], 34–9; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 14:464 [2 Mar. 1867]; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 24 Jan. 1868).

On 2 Oct. 1819 TJ also received a letter from Thomas McKean Myer dated 22 June 1819, not found, recorded in SJL as coming from Washington, with the bracketed notation “do” to indicate that it, too, related to the American Colonization Society. James Madison also received a letter from Myer, not found, and replied on 12 Oct. 1819 that “Your letter with the second annual report of the American Colonization Society, presented by the Managers in a volume so elegantly printed & bound, having got into a wrong channel did not till lately come to hand” (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:531).

Index Entries

  • American Colonization Society search
  • Force, Peter; and American Colonization Society search
  • Force, Peter; identified search
  • Force, Peter; letter from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books and Library; works sent to search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); works sent to search
  • Myer, Thomas McKean; and American Colonization Society search
  • Myer, Thomas McKean; letter from accounted for search
  • slavery; and colonization search
  • The Second Annual Report of the American Society for colonizing the Free People of Colour of the United States search