Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter S. Du Ponceau to Thomas Jefferson, 9 October 1820

From Peter S. Du Ponceau

Philadelphia, 9. Oct. 1820

Dear Sir

I take the liberty of introducing to you in the person of Mr L. C. Vanuxem, the bearer hereof, a young American, who to a mind formed by nature for the Philosophical Sciences, unites the advantages of a regular Scientific education in the best Schools & under the best professors abroad. He is lately returned from Paris where he was three Years engaged exclusively in the Study of Chemistry & Mineralogy. When his father sent him thither, he had already acquired considerable knowledge in the latter Science by his own unaided efforts, & young as he was at that time, he was an useful & active Member of our Academy of Natural Sciences. I have no doubt that he will distinguish himself in the Career into which he has been thrown by the irresistible bent of his genius, & I have thought that such a Character was deserving of your high patronage.

 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect

Sir   Your most obedt humble servt

Peter S, Du Ponceau

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 17 Oct. 1820 and so recorded (with additional bracketed notation: “by mr Vanuxem”) in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Bernard Peyton, 10 May 1821, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, Esq Monticello” by “Mr Vanuxem.”

Lardner Clark Vanuxem (1792–1848), geologist, educator, and son of the merchant James Vanuxem, was born in Philadelphia. He became a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1815 and, after studying for several years in his father’s native France, graduated from the École des mines in Paris in 1819. Vanuxem visited Monticello with Thomas Cooper in 1820 and joined him the following year at South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) as professor of geology and mineralogy. He remained at the school until 1827, after which he served as a consultant for a gold mine in Mexico and undertook geologic fieldwork in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. In 1830 Vanuxem established his permanent residence on a farm just outside of Bristol, Pennsylvania. Best known for introducing stratigraphic paleontology into the United States, he worked for the New York geological survey, 1836–41, and published his findings in an 1842 monograph entitled Geology of New-York. Part III. Comprising the Survey of the Third Geological District. In 1822 Vanuxem was elected to the American Philosophical Society, and in 1840 he helped to establish the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, which became, a few years later, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1970–80, 16 vols. description ends ; United States Geological Survey, Bulletin 746 [1923]: 1045–6; Act of Incorporation and By-Laws of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia [1857], 28; Hore Browse Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 23 Oct. 1820 [RC in DLC: NPT]; Maximilian LaBorde, History of the South Carolina College [1874], 527; middle name given in Du Ponceau to James Madison, 23 Mar. 1821 [Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:285]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 18 Oct. 1822 [MS in PPAmP]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Pa., Bristol, 1830, 1840; Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette, 24 Feb. 1848; gravestone inscription in Saint James the Greater Episcopal Churchyard, Bristol).

Index Entries

  • Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia; members of search
  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • chemistry; study of search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; introduces L. C. Vanuxem to TJ search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • mineralogy; study of search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Vanuxem, Lardner C. search
  • Vanuxem, James search
  • Vanuxem, Lardner Clark; as geologist search
  • Vanuxem, Lardner Clark; identified search
  • Vanuxem, Lardner Clark; introduced to TJ search
  • Vanuxem, Lardner Clark; visits Monticello search