Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Hosack to Thomas Jefferson, 12 October 1819

From David Hosack

New york octr 12th 1819

Dear Sir

I am unwilling to intrude upon your retirement or to give you trouble in calling your attention to the subject of this note but I am persuaded there is no other person to whom I can apply for the information I ask with the same prospect of obtaining it as yourself—I am appointed by the New york Historical Society to deliver an Eulogium commemorative of the character & Literary services of our late friend Dr Hugh Williamson—I know his early education—his first pursuits as a professor of Mathematics in Phila—as a clergyman in the presbyterian church—his study of medecine his visit to Europe for that purpose—his practice in Phila and during the revolutionary war—his services in the Legislature of North Carolina and in ye Congress of the U. States—his writings on climate—Carolina—on comets—the Rattlesnake—the Torpedo or gymnotus—& his papers in the American Medl Register.1 I also know his pursuits since his removal to new york—

If upon these or any other topics relating to him you can give me any facts illustrative of his character I shall feel myself greatly obliged—it is said he was instrumental in obtaining for Dr Franklin, Govr Hutchinson’s letters—are you acquainted with the circumstances?—

Dr Williamson on his second visit to Europe in 1774 was suspected by our countrymen—what could have given rise to their doubts of his patriotism?—I know he was examined by the privy council relative to the destruction of the Tea in Boston but I have never been able to find a printed copy of his examination2 can you inform me in what work it was published—

what was his weight in congress—what important bills did he introduce?—

in what estimation was his theory of comets held by the Sćavans of France?—

But I fear to proceed further—any information relative to our friend will greatly assist me in making up my narrative—I shall deliver my discourse upon an early day in Novr

Being one of the Doctors Executors I have examined his papers and among them find one from you dated Paris feby 6. 1785—perceiving by this that an early intercourse subsisted between you and Dr W. I have been induced to make this application. I am Dear Sir with Sentiments

of high respect yours

David Hosack

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq LLD. Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked New York, 12 Oct.; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Oct. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

Hosack published his completed eulogium as A Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, M.D. LL.D. (New York, 1820; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 [no. 165]; TJ’s copy in ViCMRL, on deposit ViU). sćavans: an obsolete variant of “savants” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “it.”

Index Entries

  • A Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, M.D. LL.D. (D. Hosack) search
  • American Medical and Philosophical Register: or, Annals of Medicine, Natural History, Agriculture, and the Arts search
  • American Revolution; historiography of search
  • astronomy; and comets search
  • books; biographical search
  • Boston, Mass.; during Revolutionary War search
  • comets; H. Williamson on search
  • Congress, U.S.; members of search
  • fish; gymnotus search
  • fish; torpedo search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; and T. Hutchinson’s letters search
  • Great Britain; Privy Council search
  • gymnotus (fish) search
  • Hosack, David; A Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, M.D. LL.D. search
  • Hosack, David; letters from search
  • Hutchinson, Thomas; correspondence of published search
  • New-York Historical Society; addresses to search
  • Presbyterians; clergy search
  • rattlesnakes; H. Williamson on search
  • torpedo (fish) search
  • Williamson, Hugh; A Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, M.D. LL.D. (D. Hosack) search
  • Williamson, Hugh; writings of search