Thomas Jefferson Papers

Daniel Humphreys to Thomas Jefferson, 30 August 1820

From Daniel Humphreys

Portsmouth NH. August 30th 1820


Permit me to tender to your acceptance the enclosed short piece; not as being worth your acceptance, but as a small token of a respect, neither small, nor of a late date.

The attempt originated from the following question.

Is it not practicable to abridge the labour of men of Study, who commit much to writing for their own after inspection; and may not this be done without any heavy tax on the memory?

Having been deterred by the apparent labour, from learning a shorthand, and afterward having partially learned, & practised more than one sort, and discontinued them; after some efforts, I fell upon the one I have the honour to present to you, & have used it for some time.

If it may be considered as affording a proper opportunity of testifying a respect where due, one valuable purpose at least, will be attained. I have the Honor to be

with much regard & best wishes Your obedt Hume Servt

Danl Humphreys

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 24 Sept. 1820 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to William Wallace, 19 Aug. 1821, on verso; addressed: “The Honourable Mr Jefferson late President of the United States of America at his Seat Monticello”; franked; postmarked Portsmouth, N.H., 31 Aug.

Daniel Humphreys (1740–1827), attorney and elder brother of the soldier and diplomat David Humphreys, was born in Derby, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College (later Yale University) in 1757 and was admitted to the bar at New Haven a few years later. Although Humphreys moved in 1770 to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he spent most of the Revolutionary War in New Haven teaching grammar and literature. At the end of the conflict he returned to Portsmouth, where he reestablished his legal practice. Humphreys served as United States district attorney for New Hampshire, 1804–27. He was described a decade prior to his death as “poor” and entirely dependent for support “on the emoluments of that office.” An early and lifelong convert to Sandemanianism, a sect that opposed any connection between church and state and advocated a return to primitive Christianity, Humphreys issued a number of works on religion. He also published The Compendious American Grammar, or Grammatical Institutes in Verse (Portsmouth, 1792). Humphreys died in Portsmouth (Samuel Orcutt and Ambrose Beardsley, The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642–1880 [1880], 735–6; Dexter, Yale Biographies description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, 1885–1912, 6 vols. description ends , 2:471–4; Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Yale University … 1701–1910 [1910], 64; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.H., Portsmouth, 1790–1810; 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 , 43:355n, 506, 680; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:471, 473, 3:234, 248, 353, 358 [12, 20 Nov. 1804, 15 Jan., 26 Feb. 1821, 8, 20 Jan. 1824]; William Plumer to James Monroe, 11 Dec. 1818 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1817–25]; Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette, 2 Oct. 1827).

The enclosed short piece on a new form of shorthand has not been found and does not seem to have been published.

Index Entries

  • Humphreys, Daniel; and stenography search
  • Humphreys, Daniel; identified search
  • Humphreys, Daniel; letter from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • stenography search
  • writing; stenography search