Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to George Watterston, 1 September 1820

To George Watterston

Monticello Sep. 1. 20.


Having lately met with a very full catalogue of books relating to America, I have supposed it could not be better placed than in your hands for the use of the library committee with whom I presume it is a primary object to obtain every thing of that description. by taking the trouble to mark on this catalogue those you possess, (which make a great part of those most valuable),1 the unpossessed will be obvious. I think however that in the catalogue of authorities stated in Robertson’s America there must be several important works omitted in this and which I could never get. a standing instruction to the Minister in Madrid might in time procure them.

I send you herewith a thin MS. vol. marked A. being the 1st vol. of the MS. laws of Virginia, belonging to your library. you will find it entered in the catalogue of 1815. pa. 73. No 191. it was one of those I had lent to mr Hening, who has printed it’s contents in his 1st vol. of the Statutes at large pa. 122. Etc and I never doubted it had been returned to you & was in the library. how it happened otherwise how it got into the hands of a private gentleman in Wms burg and from his into those of a gentleman in of2 the Western states, is to me unknown. but this last gentleman, seeing the endorsement in my hand writing, judging thence it might be mine, & having occasion to pass thro’ this neighborhood lately, brought it with him and returned it to me. I am happy that chances so favorable and extraordinary have enabled me to place it in it’s proper home. mr Hening informs me he has returned you the vol. D. of the same collection. I salute you with great esteem & respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Thomas Cooper to TJ, 21 Mar. 1820; at foot of text: “Mr Watterston”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Manuscript A, a part of TJ’s collection of Virginia statutes that he had sold to the nation in 1815 (DLC: TJ Papers, ser. 8; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1822). Other enclosure not found.

The congressional Joint library committee worked with Watterston to direct the operations of the Library of Congress. The current United States minister in madrid was John Forsyth. The private gentleman in Williamsburg was Littleton W. Tazewell, while the individual from a western state was George Croghan.

1Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

2Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • books; on history search
  • Catalogue of the Library of the United States (G. Watterston) search
  • Croghan, George; and manuscript of Va. laws search
  • Forsyth, John; as minister plenipotentiary to Spain search
  • Hening, William Waller; and TJ’s collection of Va. laws search
  • Hening, William Waller; The Statutes at Large search
  • History of America (W. Robertson) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; manuscript collection of Va. laws search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; sends manuscripts search
  • law; books on search
  • Library of Congress; acquisition of works by search
  • Library of Congress; and library committees of Congress search
  • Library of Congress; Catalogue of the Library of the United States. To Which is Annexed, A Copious Index, Alphabetically Arranged (G. Watterston) search
  • Library of Congress; manuscripts of Va. laws acquired by search
  • Robertson, William (1721–93); History of America search
  • Spain; U.S. minister to search
  • Tazewell, Littleton Waller; and manuscript of Va. laws search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); sources for search
  • Virginia; laws of search
  • Virginia; TJ’s collection of laws of search
  • Watterston, George; as librarian of Congress search
  • Watterston, George; Catalogue of the Library of the United States search
  • Watterston, George; letters to search