Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Herttell to Thomas Jefferson, 11 November 1819

From Thomas Herttell

New York Novr 11th 1819—

Respected Sir—

Though I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you, my knowledge of your exalted character leads me to believe you will pardon the freedom I have taken to request your [acce]ptance of the accompanying pamphlet, entitled An “expose1 of the causes of intemperate drinking and the means by which it may be obviated.” Should it hereafter be deemed worthy of a second edition, I will avail myself of the benefit of any observations you may think proper to make on the subject of which it treats—

That you may be blessed with long life and perfect health and happiness is the sincere wish

Venerable Sir of your’s respectfully

Thos Herttell

RC (DLC); mutilated; at foot of text: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Nov. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Herttell, Expose of the Causes of Intemperate Drinking and the Means by which It May be Obviated (New York, 1819).

Thomas Herttell (ca. 1771–1849), attorney, public official, and reformer, began practicing law in New York City by 1794. He represented New York County in the lower house of the state legislature, 1833–37 and 1840. Herttell authored numerous pamphlets and speeches advocating such reforms as temperance, an end to imprisonment for debt, and property rights for married women. A proponent of free thought and a leader of the “infidel” movement, he held religion in contempt, particularly where he saw it interfering with political rights. Herttell died in New York City (William Duncan, The New-York Directory, and Register, for the year 1794 [New York, 1794]; Franklin B. Hough, The New-York Civil List [1858], 280; Herttell, The Demurrer: or, Proofs of Error in the Decision of the Supreme Court of the State of New-York, requiring Faith in Particular Religious Doctrines as a Legal Qualification of Witnesses, thence Establishing by Law a Religious Test, and a Religious Creed [1828]; James S. Kabala, “‘Theocrats’ vs. ‘Infidels’: Marginalized Worldviews and Legislative Prayer in 1830s New York,” Journal of Church and State 51 [2009]: 78–101; New York Weekly Herald, 6 Oct. 1849).

On this day Herttell sent similar letters and copies of the above enclosure to John Adams and James Madison (MHi: Adams Papers; Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:548).

1Omitted opening quotation mark editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • alcohol; abuse of search
  • alcohol; temperance search
  • Expose of the Causes of Intemperate Drinking and the Means by which It May be Obviated (T. Herttell) search
  • Herttell, Thomas; Expose of the Causes of Intemperate Drinking and the Means by which It May be Obviated search
  • Herttell, Thomas; identified search
  • Herttell, Thomas; letter from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search