Thomas Jefferson Papers

Leonard M. Parker to Thomas Jefferson, 11 July 1821

From Leonard M. Parker

Charlestown Mass. July 11. 1821.


I take the liberty to enclose you an oration delivered in this Town, on the late “great Anniversary Festival,” together with an address introductory to the reading of the Declaration of Independence—I take this liberty, although it has never been my good fortune to be favoured with a personal acquaintance—But on the bright page of our Country’s history, on the great theatre of publick life, and from the lips of a father-in-law, the late Judge Lincoln of Worcester, who was proud to consider you as a friend; I have learned a character, which I honour and revere—I beg to be pardoned for feeling more than an ordinary interest in the enclosed performances—inasmuch as both of the young men were my pupils in the study of the law—Mr. Willard admitted to practice as an Attorney within a few months, and Mr. Loring is now a student in my office—Should the perusal impart to you the slightest gratification, it will be to me a source of lasting joy—

With sentiments of the greatest respect, I am, Sir, your Obt. Servt.

Leonard M. Parker.

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Th: Jefferson—late Prest U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 July 1821 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: An Oration, Pronounced at Charlestown, on the 4th July, 1821, at the request of the Republican citizens of that town, in Commemoration of the Anniversary of National Independence. By Paul Willard Esq. To which is added, Remarks, Introductory to the Reading of the Declaration of Independence, on the same occasion, by Nathaniel Hall Loring (Boston, 1821), opening with Willard lauding self-government as a human right; recollecting American colonial history and noting that “the revolution was deeply founded in the hearts and minds of the colonists” (p. 6) and a “contest between arbitrary power on the one hand, and rational liberty on the other” (p. 7); highlighting the Declaration of Independence as a “harbinger of universal emancipation” (p. 8); blaming recent failed attempts at constitutional government in Europe on “want of intelligence and purity in the people” (p. 9); asserting that the “salvation of this people depends upon the indissoluble union of the states” (p. 11); describing the “Missouri question” as an attack on the Union and claiming that “Our feelings and principles, as freemen and christians, were appealed to, and thousands of honest hearts were deluded by this insidious cant and hypocricy” (p. 13); predicting that “sublime destinies” await the nation (p. 13); and concluding with Loring’s introduction to the reading of the Declaration of Independence, which focused on TJ’s character as “an illustrious and almost solitary example of a pure and verdant mind, retaining all its excellencies through every variety of fortune; whether in obscurity, or on a seat far above the highest” (p. 16).

Leonard Moody Parker (1789–1854), attorney and public official, was born in Shirley, Massachusetts. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1808 and read law with TJ correspondent Levi Lincoln. Admitted to the bar in 1811, Parker began practice in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He served as a judge advocate in the United States Army, 1814–15. Parker represented Charlestown in the state House of Representatives in 1816, sat in the state Senate, 1818–21, 1826–27, 1836–38, and 1840, returned to the House, 1825, 1828, 1829, and represented Shirley there in 1851. Transitioning from the Republican to the Democratic party, during his long legislative service he chaired committees that encouraged construction and state investment in railroads. In 1820 Parker served in a state constitutional convention, and five years later he sat on a commission to settle the boundary between Massachusetts and Connecticut. President Andrew Jackson appointed him naval officer for the district of Boston and Charlestown in 1830, and he served until his term expired in 1834. Parker’s real estate in 1850 was valued at $8,700, and at his death in Shirley he bequeathed $4,000 to endow a high school there (Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society [1881], 2:223–33; MWA: Parker Papers; George T. Chapman, Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College [1867], 140; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:770; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 4:128, 134, 452 [14, 17 Dec. 1830, 30 Dec. 1834]; Seth Chandler, History of the Town of Shirley [1883], 70, 194; DNA: RG 29, CS, Mass., Shirley, 1850; Middlesex, Mass., Wills and Probate Records, case number 38897; New York Evening Post, 30 Aug. 1854; gravestone inscription in Worcester Rural Cemetery, Worcester, Mass.).

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; reflections on search
  • An Oration, Pronounced at Charlestown, on the 4th July, 1821, at the request of the Republican citizens of that town (P. Willard and N. H. Loring) search
  • Declaration of Independence; mentioned search
  • Declaration of Independence; readings of search
  • Declaration of Independence; TJ as author of search
  • Fourth of July; orations search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • law; study of search
  • Lincoln, Levi; family of search
  • Loring, Nathaniel Hall; An Oration, Pronounced at Charlestown, on the 4th July, 1821, at the request of the Republican citizens of that town search
  • Missouri question; speeches on search
  • Parker, Leonard Moody; identified search
  • Parker, Leonard Moody; letter from search
  • Willard, Paul; An Oration, Pronounced at Charlestown, on the 4th July, 1821, at the request of the Republican citizens of that town search