Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Barraclough to Thomas Jefferson, 1 May 1820

From William Barraclough

New Canaan Fairfield County Connecticut May 1st–1820


As I am an obscure stranger and without a friend to recommend or introduce me to your Excellency’s notice, I must commence by begging pardon for intruding myself; a freedom to which I was encouraged by that liberality of sentiment which has appeared so conspicuous in your public Administration & in your justly esteemed writings.   Enclosed is a small work in poetry which I have lately published perhaps your Excellency might find leisure to peruse it, I have been unfortunate in publishing altho’ as far as I can learn it has given general satisfaction to those who have read it, but the dulness of the times makes it difficult to sell, to which is added the disadvantage of its emanating from an author entirely unknown in the world; perhaps also the style in which I found myself obliged to have it printed and got up, may make against it for Books, like Men are too often judged by their exteriors.   Should you peruse it Sir, and should it be so fortunate as to meet your approbation it would then be in your power would you condescend to write me a line expressive thereof, to do me a most important kindness, as a word of recommendation might prove the means of introducing it advantageously to the public. I am a poor Man, a Journeyman Mechanic, with a Family in very difficult circumstances: But the friends of Literature, in the most exalted stations have sometimes condescended to notice the humblest of their brethren. I will add no more, I fear I have said too much already.   Hoping Sir that You will forgive the freedom I have used

I remain with the most profound Respect

Your Exellency’s most obedient and most humbl Servant.

William Barraclough.

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esquire Late President of the United-States Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked New York, 5 May; endorsed by TJ as received 11 May 1820 and so recorded in SJL.

William Barraclough lived for several decades in Fairfield County, Connecticut (DNA: RG 29, CS, Conn., New Canaan, 1810–30, Stratford, 1840).

Barraclough’s small work in poetry was Poetical essays, on several subjects: containing various views of nature, interspersed with moral reflections; a short survey of the previous state, first settlement and subsequent improvements of the United States &c. &c. (Norwalk, Conn., 1819; not found, but reprinted in 1856) (Roger E. Stoddard, “Lost Books: American Poetry before 1821,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 76 [1982]: 17; Stoddard, comp., and David R. Whitesell, ed., A Bibliographical Description of Books and Pamphlets of American Verse Printed From 1610 Through 1820 [2012], 667).

Index Entries

  • Barraclough, William; identified search
  • Barraclough, William; letter from search
  • Barraclough, William; Poetical essays, on several subjects: containing various views of nature, interspersed with moral reflections search
  • books; of poetry search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Poetical essays, on several subjects: containing various views of nature, interspersed with moral reflections (W. Barraclough) search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search