Thomas Jefferson Papers

Timothy Dwight Porter to Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 10 March 1820]

From Timothy Dwight Porter

New-Haven. [ca. 10 Mar.] 1820.


I send for your inspection a copy of the constitution of the Am. Geol. Soc. among whose members you have signified your willingness to hold a place. The Society has met but once since its adoption—Some account of its proceedings will be communicated to the public thro’ the Journal of Science. Respectfully yours,

T. Dwight Porter. R.S.

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 215:38424–5); on a sheet folded to form four pages, with printed text of first enclosure on p. 1, letter on p. 2, printed text of second enclosure on pp. 2–3, and address on p. 4; partially dated; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson, Esq. Monticello. Virginia”; stamp canceled; postmarked New Haven, 10 Mar.; endorsed by TJ as a letter dated only 1820 received 19 Mar. 1820 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) “An Act to incorporate The American Geological Society,” 31 May 1819 (described above at Benjamin Silliman to TJ, 31 Aug. 1819). (2) Constitution of the American Geological Society, [before 10 Mar. 1820], establishing the society’s officers; limiting membership to one hundred, plus up to twenty-five honorary and forty corresponding members; stating that new members must be approved at regular meetings by three-fourths of the members present; giving a schedule for meetings; listing membership dues (canceled by hand in TJ’s copy, presumably to indicate that he was excused from payment); declaring that the society would be provisionally located at New Haven; providing for amendment; and naming the founding officers, including William Maclure as president and Porter as recording secretary and curator.

Timothy Dwight Porter (1797–1880), publisher and educator, was born in Hadley, Massachusetts, and moved with his family in about 1807 to New Haven, Connecticut, where he attended the Hopkins Grammar School. Porter graduated from Yale College (later Yale University) in 1816. He spent a year tutoring in Lynchburg before returning to Yale to study medicine, earning a medical degree in 1820. From around then until 1823 Porter held a position as a tutor at South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina). In the latter year he moved permanently to New York City. Porter worked as an editor of the Religious Chronicle and the Albion before establishing the New York Atlas, which ended publication in 1833. He and his brother Theodore W. Porter then became proprietors of the Washington Institute, a school that they operated until Theodore Porter’s illness and 1855 death led to his brother’s retirement (Benjamin W. Dwight, The History of the Descendants of John Dwight, of Dedham, Mass. [1874], 1:243–4; Catalogue of the Trustees, Rectors, Instructors and Alumni of the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven, Connecticut. 1660–1902 [1902], 43; Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Yale University … 1701–1910 [1910], 90; Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale College Deceased during the Academical Year ending in June, 1881 [(1881)], 7–8; Daniel Walker Hollis, University of South Carolina [1951–56], 1:75; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1830, 1840, 1870, 1880; New York Evening Post, 13 Dec. 1880; gravestone inscription recorded in Ct: Charles R. Hale Collection).

Index Entries

  • American Geological Society; An Act to incorporate The American Geological Society (1819) search
  • American Geological Society; constitution of search
  • American Geological Society; TJ’s membership in search
  • An Act to incorporate The American Geological Society (1819) search
  • Porter, Timothy Dwight; and American Geological Society search
  • Porter, Timothy Dwight; identified search
  • Porter, Timothy Dwight; letter from search