Thomas Jefferson Papers

Henry M. Brackenridge to Thomas Jefferson, 5 February 1820

From Henry M. Brackenridge

Annapolis Feb. 5. 1820.


Mr Rodney as my friend, was so good as to send you a copy of the book I have lately published on South America, and it has afforded me high gratification to learn from him, that you have expressed a favorable opinion of it. Being the Chief of the Mission, of which I was the Secretary, I thought that in coming from him, it would bring with it a recommendation which I could not give. I am but too sensible that in point of execution it bears the marks of haste, and has many blemishes. My habit, is, to think much, to write rapidly, and to polish at leizure; but in this instance, I was compelled1 by a contract between the bookseller and printer, to complete it in ninety days, when I had not more than forty pages written—It was completed in a little more than two months.

The truth has been my guiding star. As a philosopher I endeavored to contemplate the subject with impartiality—It was unfortunate for me that I was compelled2 to differ from some men who have private interests to gratify, and who have discovered hostility to me, because the accounts which I give tend to falsify theirs. Mr Torres, an enlightened South American, has spoken of the work in the most favorable manner. The American publick has been dreadfully imposed upon by accounts from South America, but I hope I shall be able to hold up a candle to enable my countrymen to see and judge for themselves. In a second edition, I propose to extend the subject considerably, and shall endeavour to render it more complete.

Permit me, Sir, to express my most ardent wishes for your health and happiness

I am with great respect

Your3 most obedt Sevt

H: M: Brackenridge

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 10 Feb. 1820 but recorded in SJL as received a day earlier. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Mathew Carey, 11 Apr. 1820, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, Late President of the United States. Monticello (Charlotesville) Virginia”; franked; inconsistently postmarked Annapolis, 4 Feb.

1Manuscript: “conpelled.”

2Manuscript: “conplled.”

3Manuscript: “You.”

Index Entries

  • Brackenridge, Henry Marie; as secretary of U.S. diplomatic mission to South America search
  • Brackenridge, Henry Marie; letters from search
  • Brackenridge, Henry Marie; Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American government, in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; as U.S. commissioner to South America search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; sends work to TJ search
  • South America; U.S. commission to search
  • South America; works on search
  • Torres, Manuel; praises book search
  • Voyage to South America, performed by order of the American government, in the years 1817 and 1818, in the frigate Congress (H. M. Brackenridge) search