Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Alexander Otis to Thomas Jefferson, 15 July 1820

From George Alexander Otis

Philadelphia 15 July 1820


I hasten to return my acknowledgements for the letter with which you have honoured me under date of 8th July, in which the character of Botta’s work is traced with so much force and elegance, that Mr Walsh has persuaded me it would be an injustice to the Historian as well as to the people of this Union, as yet unacquainted with his1 merit, to withhold it from the world, I have accordingly consented to its publication; for which I venture to anticipate your excuse; and for which I must frankly confess another motive, that my fellow citizens might not be ignorant of the delicate compliment with which you were pleased to express your approbation of my enterprise; and for this ambition I find an apology in the poet of philosophy: “Juvat novos excerpere flores

Atque meo capiti petere inde coronam.”2

I pray you, Sir, to accept the homage of my profound veneration and grateful respect.

G. A. Otis

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 31 July 1820 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to John Hemmings, 18 Dec. 1821, on verso; addressed: “To the Honourable Thomas Jefferson late President of the U.S of America Monticello Virga”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 16 July.

A variant of the phrase juvat novos excerpere flores atque meo capiti petere inde coronam (“I love to gather new flowers and to seek a chaplet for my head”) appears in Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 4.3–4 (Lucretius De Rerum Natura, trans. William Henry Denham Rouse, Loeb Classical Library [1924; rev. by Martin Ferguson Smith, 1992], 276–7).

1Reworked from “him.”

2Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; books on search
  • books; on American Revolution search
  • books; on history search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; History of the War of the Independence of the United States of America (trans. G. A. Otis) search
  • History of the War of the Independence of the United States of America (C. G. G. Botta; trans. G. A. Otis) search
  • Lucretius; quoted search
  • Otis, George Alexander; letters from search
  • Otis, George Alexander; translatesHistory of the War of the Independence of the United States of America (C. G. G. Botta) search
  • Walsh, Robert; and translation of C. G. G. Botta’s history of American Revolution search