Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Ewell to Thomas Jefferson, 12 October 1819

From James Ewell

Washington Octobr 12th 1819

Hond Sir

As my friend Dr White of Savannah will be highly gratified in the honor of being personally acquainted with you, I know you will readily excuse the liberty I take in introducing him to your notice—more particularly as he is a gentleman of great respectability & Literary acquirements.

I embrace this opportunity to present you with a copy of the 5th edition of the “Medical Companion.” I regret it is not better bound.

I have the honor to be

Sir, with the highest respect & esteem yr obedt Sert

James Ewell

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 18 Oct. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Craven Peyton, 13 Feb. 1821, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre Monticello attention of Dr White.” Enclosure: Ewell, The Medical Companion (5th ed., Philadelphia, 1819; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 183]; first two eds. entitled The Planter’s and Mariner’s Medical Companion).

James Ewell (1773–1832), physician and author, was born near Dumfries. His father, Jesse Ewell, was a classmate of TJ at the College of William and Mary. Ewell studied medicine first under his uncle James Craik, of Alexandria, and later with the Baltimore physician Henry Stevenson, and he attended lectures in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. His medical practice began in Lancaster County, Virginia, followed by a move to Dumfries, and from 1801 to 1808 he worked in Savannah. During this time Ewell wrote and published The Planter’s and Mariner’s Medical Companion (Philadelphia, 1807; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 893). The volume went through numerous editions under varying titles, all of which were dedicated to TJ. Settling in Washington by 1808, the British army made Ewell’s home its headquarters during the occupation of 1814. His willingness to negotiate with the occupiers and treat British soldiers attracted criticism that he answered in 1816 in the third edition of his Medical Companion. In 1831 Ewell made a final move to New Orleans, where he died of cholera (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; anonymous biography in The Medical Companion, or Family Physician [10th ed., 1847], xv–xxii; TJ to Ewell, 1 Mar. 1808 [MHi]; Washington National Journal, 27 May 1831; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 23 Nov. 1832).

Index Entries

  • Ewell, James; identified search
  • Ewell, James; introduces J. E. White search
  • Ewell, James; letter from search
  • Ewell, James; The Medical Companion search
  • Ewell, James; The Planter’s and Mariner’s Medical Companion search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • The Medical Companion (J. Ewell) search
  • The Planter’s and Mariner’s Medical Companion (J. Ewell) search
  • White, Joshua Elder; introduced to TJ search