Thomas Jefferson Papers

Edward Postlethwayt Page to Thomas Jefferson, [by 3 June 1820]

From Edward Postlethwayt Page

[by 3 June 1820]

To the venerable Thomas Jefferson:,
whom I and other fools did whilom1
contemptuously brand as the sage of

Conscious of the injustice I have done you by the influence of priest craft my judgment having been misled—I do sincerely recant. I was, when 12 a midshipman on board the Leviathan 74 in the West Indies.—Afterwards I was a Lieutt in H.B.M. 12th regt in India—But the liver complaint & Mercury in excess for 3 years drove me to Engd. Thence, after being accepted as a missionary to Africa & the East by the Episcopal society in London—my nervous system being greatly impaired & unfitting me for the requisite study—I came to America just after the Chesapeake was fired into designing to proceed to India at my own expence & act independent of Societies.—I hid myself in Little York Pennsyla with an Irishman Henry Coxe a Quaker—& have travelled much & been very unsteady as to residence, all over the United States, teaching school every now & then—I had always been very prudent with my property till I came to Ohio—but here in a few months I have lost 3000 dollars at least by all of a sudden becoming infatuated & a speculator—& withal—I e’en thought to be possessed of half a silver-mine being duped2 by another Englishman who played me a yankee trick—Suddenly, my neighbour Dr McIntosh, the only man acquainted with divine Urim & Thummim that ever seceded from the Slave mason lodge developed to me (who never was one) their error about 3 months ago—Since I addressed you on the same subject 10 thousand other arguments to verify the number 12 as the standard measure of the true spiritual Temple have broke upon my mind & 3 days since I found that the3 Magic circleof circles & Square of Squares discovered by Dr Franklin had their then latent but now to me at least evident correspondency & connexion with the seven attributes of Jehovah & the 5 of man—for when the whole world of men shall harmonize & become subject to such a government as that of the slave masons (oaths excepted) then the whole aggregate is Jehovah’s agent or hand & divine magic shall be fully restored—& there will be the Saviour found.—Sir I have seen a 3 headed monster in Bombay harbour on the Isle of Elephanta when I went there with my uncle (then a Member of the B-bay Council) to dine in the Cave of which history is as much in ignorance as of the Mounds & fortifications here—about him were Covra Capells or hooded snakes Genl Putnam4 says that the rattle, black & copper head snakes he has seen in one hole coiled up together in winter quarters—Sir in Europe King-craft was a viper blind—here is become a rattle snake—priest craft is a black snake & Slave oath5 masonry a copper headed Sodomite loving strange flesh & you never see a woman in the hellish lodge the infamous Babylon the mother of all spiritual6 whoredom & thraldom—The Jew is Adam Slave mason Eve—Selfishness the forbidden fruit—Every abomination has been hatched in that detestable sink of perdition—By masons Kings have reigned & Priests decreed injustice—Popery, Slavery, death, hell itself was begotten here in this Magic lanthorn of sorcery where you may behold the imp inverted till I and McIntosh reflect him upon Belshazzar’s wall—See Daniel 5th Chapter—See also Ezekiel 8, 9, 10 chapt. See Esther—See in the Allegory all scripture We totally contradict Emanuel Swedenborg as it respects hell7—he was among monarchs and had no divine Urim & Thummim key wherewith8 to unlock the temple—he knew no virtue in Numbers associated with letters & the planets & stars.—Sir—I beseech you to regard me—You have one foot in the grave—Your worldly cares are over—You partly penned & you signed the little book John in the Apocalypse ate, viz our precious leaven the Constitution—Sir—I predicted 2 months ago that not a monarch would exist in Europe (Emperor of Russia perhaps excepted) by the 7th of next Jany certainly not by the 7th of the year ensuin[g] that—& in9 1826 we, in North Ameri[ca] would have neither President Senate nor Congress—but simply the regulations of Masonry oaths excepted—That this year commences the day of judgment10—that all are finally saved—not any one damned to all eternity that the Mexican Indians in their astronomy 13 must scalp our pride—that we must drink tea in the hieroglyphic temple of China (80,000 characters) that the North & South poles are open & some Dragon or wonder there—that we must have all things in common & resemble patriarchal & Indian simplicity & love—that God is Love.—equitytruth, and all Scripture is true. that the book of Nature is the greatest of all books—and rightly to associate the arts and sciences and history & Nations & all things in one aggregate pile for holy blazing11 is to perform miracles—and restore Divine Magic and raise our fathers from the dead—And Sir I call upon you in the name of suffering humanity to send me forthwith every thing in your power relative to numbers and association of them in Magical form & immediately to penetrate into these things & cease not—for it is life to the world—By their making merchandize of holy things, and their sorceries they have bewitched all the world to run after kings & black priests—feeding upon husks—The world must be levelled—All men are equal says Eternal Truth—whether Black White or copper—Sir—All nations & this America too shall immediately become bankrupt—their lice is money (see about the plagues of Egypt)12—If encouraged I will deluge you with arguments—In all humility

 Edward Postlethwayt Page
alias, King David’s Page


At the town of Marietta, N:B: Mary, mother of Jesus13

I had supposed (till I brought this to the office this14 3d of June) that all went free to you—and I rather think I should not have written it if I had been apprised of my mistake—It goes—& I know the Truth is with it I will not intrude upon you again without permission—Your silence will forbid me I regret to find that I am imposing upon you the expence of Postage

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 217:38827–8); undated, with dated postscript; torn at seal; postscript oriented upside down to body of letter; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqre Late President of the U: States Montecello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Marietta, 7 June; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 3 June 1820 received nineteen days later and so recorded (with additional bracketed notation: “insane”) in SJL.

The British warship Leviathan carried 74 guns. urim & thummim are Hebrew words, sometimes translated as “light” and “truth,” which appear on a number of occasions in the Bible (Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopædia of Freemasonry [1874], 848–9). Benjamin Franklin’s description of the magic circle of circles & square of squares had first been published in 1767 (Franklin, Papers description begins Leonard W. Labaree and others, eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 1959– , 43 vols. description ends , 4:392–403). A magic circle, in this context, is “an arrangement of numbers in concentric circles with radial divisions, with arithmetical properties similar to those of the magic square” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). Cobras de capello (covra capells) are particularly venomous snakes native to India and nearby countries (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). The biblical story of Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the forbidden fruit is in Genesis 2–3. emanuel swedenborg gives a detailed description of both heaven and hell in De Cœlo Et ejus Mirabilibus, et de Inferno, ex Auditis & Visis (London, 1758).

The Aztecs (mexican indians) used a ritual calendar based on multiples of the number thirteen (Elizabeth Hill Boone, Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs [2000], 39–41). TJ neither partly penned nor signed the United States Constitution. Saint John in the biblical Book of Revelation took a little book “out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up,” finding it sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly (10.8–10). In the Bible, the phrase god is love appears in 1 John 4.8, 16, while the story of the prodigal son reduced to feeding upon husks usually given to swine is in Luke 15.16. all men are equal is a variant of a phrase in the Declaration of Independence (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 1:413–33, quote on p. 429). lice (or gnats), one of the biblical plagues of egypt, appear in Exodus 8.16–8. puzzlepate: “A puzzle-headed person; a person confused in his or her mind or ideas” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). Marietta, Ohio, was named after the French queen Marie Antoinette, not mary, mother of jesus.

1Manuscript: “whilon.”

2Manuscript: “dupeed.”

3Page here canceled “little.”

4Manuscript: “Putnan.”

5Word interlined.

6Word interlined.

7Preceding four words interlined.

8Unmatched opening single quotation mark preceding this word editorially omitted.

9Word interlined in place of “by.”

10Unmatched closing single quotation mark editorially omitted.

11Preceding two words interlined in place of “burning.”

12Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

13Text in graphic above this line reads “King Priest Mason” and “Holy Spirit Father Son.”

14Unmatched opening parenthesis preceding this word editorially omitted.

Index Entries

  • Adam (Old Testament figure) search
  • Alexander I, emperor of Russia; mentioned search
  • antiquities; Indian burial mounds, enclosures, and fortifications search
  • Aztec Indians search
  • Belshazzar, king of Babylon search
  • Bible; Daniel referenced search
  • Bible; Esther referenced search
  • Bible; Exodus referenced search
  • Bible; Ezekiel referenced search
  • Bible; Genesis referenced search
  • Bible; John referenced search
  • Bible; Luke referenced search
  • Bible; Revelation referenced search
  • Bombay, India; council of search
  • Bombay, India; harbor of search
  • Chesapeake, USS (frigate); incident (1807) search
  • China; temples of search
  • Christianity; and E. P. Page’s cosmology search
  • Congress, U.S.; mentioned search
  • Constitution, U.S.; mentioned search
  • cosmology; of E. P. Page search
  • Coxe, Henry search
  • David, king of Israel search
  • Egypt; plagues of search
  • Episcopalians; and missionary work search
  • Eve (Old Testament figure) search
  • franking privilege; of TJ search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; magic circles and squares of search
  • Freemasonry; mentioned search
  • health; liver complaint search
  • Indians, American; Aztec search
  • Indians, American; burial mounds, enclosures, and fortifications of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; correspondents described by TJ as insane search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; franking privilege search
  • John the Apostle, Saint search
  • Leviathan, HMS search
  • London; Episcopal societies of search
  • Marie Antoinette, queen of France; places named for search
  • Marietta, Ohio; post office at search
  • Mary (Jesus’s mother; New Testament figure) search
  • McIntosh, Nathan search
  • medicine; mercury search
  • mental illness; correspondents described by TJ as insane search
  • mercury; as medicine search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; family of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; financial situation of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; health of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; letters from search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; regarded as insane by TJ search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; travels of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; worldview of search
  • Putnam, Israel; and snakes search
  • rattlesnakes; mentioned search
  • religion; Episcopalianism search
  • Senate, U.S.; mentioned search
  • silver; mines search
  • snakes; black search
  • snakes; cobra search
  • snakes; copperhead search
  • snakes; rattlesnake search
  • Swedenborg, Emanuel; and theology search
  • tea; drinking of search