Thomas Jefferson Papers

Nathaniel F. Moore to Thomas Jefferson, 31 August 1819

From Nathaniel F. Moore

New York Augt 31. 1819


Knowing, as I do, your attachment to the cause of letters in general, and the particular interest you feel in whatever is connected with their advancement here in our own country, I do not doubt you will receive with indulgence even the little pamphlet of which I1 take the liberty to enclose a copy—Its subject is one, which interests so few persons in this country, that if I would have readers I must seek them out, and solicit a notice of my “Remarks,” which, considering their subject, they would not of themselves be likely to attract—I naturally therefore, Sir, address myself to one, who has not only considered this subject, but has adopted the opinion, that I have ventured to controvert.

If you should condescend, Sir, to read my argument, and should be led upon the further inquiries it may invite, to doubt the propriety of the modern Greek pronunciation, such a change in the sentiments of one, whose opinion carries with it great weight, would be a source of high gratification to

Sir your very respectful & obedt servt

Nathl F. Moore

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “To Thos Jefferson Esq.”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Sept. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Moore, Remarks on the Pronunciation of the Greek Language, Occasioned by a late essay on the same subject by John Pickering, A.A.S. (New York, 1819).

Nathaniel Fish Moore (1782–1872), attorney and educator, was born in Queens County, New York, and graduated from Columbia College (later Columbia University) in 1802. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1805, and practiced in New York City until at least 1814. Moore became the adjunct professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia College in 1817, rising to full professor three years later and holding that position until 1835. He then spent two years traveling in Europe. Moore sold his library of approximately one thousand volumes of classics, philology, and theology to Columbia in 1838 and worked for a year as the school’s librarian before traveling abroad once more. In 1842 he was elected president of Columbia, serving until 1849 and remaining a trustee until 1851. During his retirement Moore took an active interest in photography. He died in the Highlands of the Hudson, New York (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Benjamin I. Haight, A Memorial Discourse of Nathaniel F. Moore, LL.D. [1874]; Milton Halsey Thomas, Columbia University Officers and Alumni 1754–1857 [1936]; Albany Centinel, 9 Aug. 1805; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1806]: 267; [1814]: 195; Moore, An Historical Sketch of Columbia College, in the City of New-York [1846], 85, 99–100; New-York Times, 29 Apr. 1872).

TJ approved of using modern greek pronunciation for ancient Greek, with some exceptions, in his letter to John Adams of 21 Mar. 1819.

1Manuscript: “a.”

Index Entries

  • An Essay on the Pronunciation of the Greek Language (J. Pickering) search
  • Greek language; pronunciation of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books and Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Greek pronunciation search
  • Moore, Nathaniel Fish; identified search
  • Moore, Nathaniel Fish; letter from search
  • Moore, Nathaniel Fish; Remarks on the Pronunciation of the Greek Language search
  • Pickering, John; An Essay on the Pronunciation of the Greek Language search
  • Remarks on the Pronunciation of the Greek Language (N. F. Moore) search