Thomas Jefferson Papers

Francis Adrian Van der Kemp to Thomas Jefferson, 12 March 1821

From Francis Adrian Van der Kemp

Olden barneveld 12 March 1821

Dear and respected Sir!

I Should need an apologÿ for intruding on your precious moments of leisure, as I have nothing interesting to communicate, had You not bestowed before at different times So many favours upon me—now I consider it needless and consider it becoming after a long Silence, to pay you once more the due tribute of my respect and gratitude as to whom I am indebted the distinguished attentions, which I received in this country from Several of the wise and good—the remembrance of which was vividly renewed by my visit last year at Boston and Quincy—from whence I addressed you with a few lines

I wished, you could have witnessed the pleasure, which a part of your last Letter, with which I was honoured, did give to our venerable friend—would to god—he was here! He devotes daily a considerable time in reading—walking and even assisting in cultivating and adorning his garden—His mental powers remain undiminished—his trembling hand prevents writing—every day was feast—and he even condescended—to accompany me at Boston—at the Invitation of mutual friends—all rancorous feelings—So much indulged with bitterness against him—are soothed—or rooted out—even former malice repents—and makes atonement by voluntary confession—this I witnessed—and do you not, my Dear Sir! enjoy Similar gratifications: I trust—you do—and how far more desirable is Such a Situation finally—above that in which a weak man is idolised by a host of creeping—Selfish—Sycophants—and Scorned and cursed, when he is divested of the power to glut their insatiable avarice. I at least have the pleasure—that I witnessed the justice done to you in our State—

You mentioned—that you would leave little behind you—but even that little must be valuable. It can not be—or there must be among your papers—to encrease yet the value of your notes—and—although—you was too long and too deep engaged in the general State concerns.—the man—who could collect and pen—the valuable materials, with which I was entrusted, must have arranged others—of a Similar price—and why Should these be burried in oblivion? my Service—in this respect—you may command, and every restriction Shall be religiously kept—

I hope—your university exceeds in its infancy your most glowing expectations—and doubt not or posterity Shall gratefully remember the Father of this institution—

Perhaps—you might through your friends—inform yourselves if in the Records of your State from 1650–60—perhaps earlier—transactions are mentioned between the Virginians and the Government of N. Netherland—I do not question of Such ones—principally—relative to trade and mutual intercourse—So too with regard to the Settlement on the Delaware or South-river—must be mentioned—except these transactions were private arrangements between the governours—

Did you—when in Europe—See the map of the united States published in London and Amsterdam—by Mitchel—undertaken with approbation of the Lord’s-Commissioners of the plantations and trade? I ask the question, because—in that map the famous Salt-mountain—there called Salt-rock—is designated on the Same Spot, where the Indians informed Gen. Miller that it existed—viz on 39 degr. between the Akansas and Padouessans

That Being—whom we revere—pour the choice of his blessings upon you—health and contentment till the hour of parting! while you will permit me, to Solicit, while I yet remain—in the enjoyment of this happiness, among the living, that you will be pleased, to continue to honour me with your remembrance—while I am—with high respect and consideration

Dear and respected Sir! Your most obed. and obliged Servant

Fr. Adr. van der Kemp

RC (DLC); dateline adjacent to closing; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Mar. 1821 and so recorded in SJL; with TJ’s additional notation beneath endorsement: “rancor past away. materials University transactions with Netherland Mitchell’s map. & salt mountain.” RC (MHi); address cover only; with FC of TJ to Thomas Ritchie, 6 Aug. 1822, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson LLD at his Seat Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Trenton, N.Y., 13 Mar.

On 28 Aug. 1820 Van der Kemp wrote TJ a few lines from John Adams’s home, which Adams playfully called “Montezillo.” TJ indicated in his letter to Van der Kemp of 9 July 1820 that he would leave little behind of value in his own writings. TJ had long been aware of John Mitchell’s 1755 map, which predated the establishment of the united states (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– , 44 vols. description ends , 40:89–90).

During his presidency TJ had been ridiculed for relaying reports that an enormous salt-mountain existed one thousand miles up the Missouri River (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– , 44 vols. description ends , 42:54–5; note to TJ to Benjamin Waterhouse, 9 Mar. 1813). The recent newspaper publication of a 2 Sept. 1820 letter by James miller, the governor of Arkansas Territory, describing an extensive “salt Prairie” located in a part of the territory that later became Oklahoma, provided some factual basis for the original claim (W. D. Williams, ed., “1820 Letter from Governor Miller Describing Arkansas Territory,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 42 [1983]: 349–54).

Paniouassas (padouessans), also called Black Pawnee, were members of the Wichita tribe (Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico [1907–10], 2:947).

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; friendship with F. A. Van der Kemp search
  • Adams, John; health of search
  • Arkansas Territory; salt deposits in search
  • Black Pawnee Indians (Paniouassas) search
  • Indians, American; Black Pawnee (Paniouassas) search
  • Indians, American; Wichita search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; TJ on search
  • maps; of U.S. search
  • Miller, James (1776–1851); as governor of Arkansas Territory search
  • Mitchell, John (ca.1690–1768); map by search
  • New York (state); public records of search
  • salt; alleged mountain of search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and N.Y. public records search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and TJ’s health search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and TJ’s legacy search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and TJ’s writings search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; friendship with J. Adams search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; letters from search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; TJ as founder of search
  • Wichita Indians search