Thomas Jefferson Papers

John S. Skinner to Thomas Jefferson, 4 May 1820

From John S. Skinner

Balt: Post office— May 4th 1820

Dear Sir—

I feel very reluctant to intrude upon your retirement and would not allow myself to do it in this instance; were it not for the belief that it may be in your power to furnish some information on the subject of Lupinella, its character & properties which is not elsewhere that I know of, to be found—

For the only account of it1 I have seen+ I beg your attention to the number of the American Farmer which accompanies this—The clover sent by Doctor Anderson—and which Capt Ballard affirms is Lupinella, having seen it growing in Tuscany is (one stalk of it) inclosed—when sent to me in water, it was fresh & vigorous, the top of it a beautiful red colour—Capt Ballard says he was informed it was a perennial plant whereas General Armstrong mentions it as a species of Annual clover—Its early & rapid growth—more especially if perennial will make it very valuable in a course of American Husbandry—especially, as it is supposed, in the Southern States where the climate will be more congenial to its habits—I have supposed that when in Italy you may have collected some facts respecting this beautiful, and apparently valuable grass; and shall be very happy & thankful for any information which you may find it convenient to furnish for the Agricultural community, to be conveyed through the American Farmer—

With very great & sincere respect & gratitude for your invaluable services to my Country

I remain Sir yr obt Sev

J S Skinner

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “To Th: Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 May 1820 and so recorded in SJL.

Despite the date of the above letter, the number of the american farmer enclosed here had a 5 May 1820 publication date. An anonymous and untitled article printed therein described the grass of which a specimen was also enclosed here. The journal having received a sample from James Anderson, of Chestertown, Maryland, Henry E. Ballard pronounced it to be lupinella. In a subsequent issue correspondents argued that Anderson had instead sent crimson trefoil (American Farmer 2 [1820]: 48, 67–8).

1Following three words interlined, with author’s note written perpendicularly in left margin.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

+ +It is not mentioned in any book in the Baltimore Library

Index Entries

  • American Farmer; sent to TJ search
  • Anderson, James; and sainfoin search
  • Armstrong, John; and sainfoin search
  • Ballard, Henry E.; and sainfoin search
  • Baltimore, Md.; library in search
  • clover; sent to TJ search
  • libraries; in Baltimore search
  • sainfoin search
  • Skinner, John Stuart; andAmerican Farmer search
  • Skinner, John Stuart; and sainfoin search
  • Skinner, John Stuart; letters from search