Thomas Jefferson Papers

Elias Boudinot to Thomas Jefferson, 5 November 1819

From Elias Boudinot

Burlington New-Jersey, November 5th 1819.


We have the pleasure of transmitting to you, a Copy of the proceedings of a Meeting held at Trenton; the objects of which are sufficiently explained in the Resolutions adoptedwe can truly assure you, that whether we consider the number of the persons present, or their individual importance, a more respectable assembly has never been convened in this State: whether the subject of those resolutions is viewed in relation to the dictates of religion and morality, or those of sound policy and national reputation and security; it appears to us to have a most imposing importance. We refrain to enter at this time, into the reasons of this opinion; it being our intention now to call to our aid, the zealous co-operation of such of our fellow Citizens in the different parts of these United States, as unite with us in that opinion, and feel an anxiety to prevent the numerous and appaling evils that must result from extending and perpetuating slavery amongst us. We therefore take the liberty, most earnestly to call your attention to this interesting concern: leaving it to your own discression, in concert with such Gentlemen as you may associate with you in the design, to organize a plan of co-operation. Be pleased to correspond with us on the subject as speedily as possible, and your communications shall be immediately attended to.

By order of the Committee,

Elias Boudinot Chairman.

Broadside (DLC); addressed in Boudinot’s hand: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello”; franked; postmarked New Castle, Del., 26 Nov.; endorsed by TJ as a “Circular” from Boudinot received 3 Dec. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

Elias Boudinot (1740–1821), Revolutionary leader, public official, and philanthropist, was born in Philadelphia. After studying law with his brother-in-law Richard Stockton, in 1760 he began a legal practice in Elizabethtown (later Elizabeth), New Jersey. Boudinot’s public service started with membership on the Essex County Committee of Correspondence, and in 1777 George Washington appointed him commissary-general of prisoners. Boudinot represented New Jersey in the Continental Congress in 1778 and from 1781 until 1783, serving two terms as president in 1782 and 1783. A prominent Federalist and strong ally of Washington, Boudinot sat in the United States House of Representatives from 1789 until he resigned to become the director of the United States Mint in 1795. He retired from that post in 1805 to concentrate on religious study, writing, and philanthropy. Boudinot was an outspoken opponent of slavery and an advocate for Native Americans. The founding president of the American Bible Society in 1816, he held that office until his death. Boudinot’s published works include The Age of Revelation. or The Age of Reason shewn to be An Age of Infidelity (Philadelphia, 1801), The Second Advent, or Coming of the Messiah in Glory (Trenton, N.J., 1815), and A Star in the West; or, A Humble Attempt to Discover the long lost Ten Tribes of Israel, preparatory to their return to their beloved city, Jerusalem (Trenton, 1816). Having been a trustee of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) since 1772, he endowed two scholarships there in addition to bequests to such other groups as the American Bible Society and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Boudinot died in Burlington, New Jersey (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 ; George Adams Boyd, Elias Boudinot: Patriot and Statesman, 1740–1821 [1952]; Jane J. Boudinot, The Life, Public Services, Addresses and Letters of Elias Boudinot, LL.D, 2 vols. [1896]; Elias Boudinot, Journal or Historical Recollections of American Events during The Revolutionary War [1894]; Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914, repr. 1967 description ends , 111; Paul H. Smith and others, eds., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789, 26 vols. [1976–2000]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 16:581; Linda Grant De Pauw and others, eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, 22 vols. [1972–2017]; New-York Evening Post, 26 Oct. 1821; Times and New-Brunswick Advertiser, 29 Nov. 1821).

On this date Boudinot sent James Madison the same circular and enclosure (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:545–6).

Index Entries

  • antislavery; in N.J. search
  • antislavery; Resolutions of a Meeting on Slavery in Trenton, New Jersey search
  • Boudinot, Elias; and antislavery search
  • Boudinot, Elias; identified search
  • Boudinot, Elias; letter from search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); circulars sent to search
  • New Jersey; antislavery in search
  • slavery; opposition to search