Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Whittemore to Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 14 August 1821]

From Thomas Whittemore

[ca. 14 Aug. 1821]

Hon. Sir,—

We are in this town (Milford) a body of coarse farmers, but true Republicans. The Oration I send you I delivered at the earnest request of my townsmen. Had I had more than 24 hours to prepare it, I could have bestowed more labour for elegance of composition. But such as it is, agreeably to the warm solicitations of those who heard it, I have presented to the world, and this copy, Hon. Sir, to you. If you derive any satisfaction from the reading of it, I shall be amply rewarded

Yours, with respect,

Thomas Whittemore.

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); undated; with Dft of TJ to Whittemore, 9 Sept. 1821, on address leaf; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Va.,” with an additional “Monticello Virgine” added in an unidentified hand; franked; postmarked Milford, Massachusetts, 14 Aug.; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Sept. 1821 from “Milford, Ms,” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Whittemore, An Oration, pronounced on the Fourth of July, 1821, (by request,) before the Republican Citizens of Milford, Mass. and the adjacent towns (Boston, 1821), celebrating the Fourth of July as the anniversary of the day that the United States “emerged from a state of slavery to the rank of a free, sovereign and independent nation” (p. 3); praising Samuel Chase, of Maryland, as “that man who started the cry of independence in the ears of his countrymen, who fanned the sparks of patriotism into a flame, which on this day, exalted and proclaimed the character of our country” (p. 5); stressing the importance of national unity during the American Revolution and for the preservation of American prosperity and strength; arguing that the War of 1812 “was a necessary consequence growing out of the conduct of Great Britain” (p. 8); condemning the Hartford Convention; listing American naval successes against Britain; and calling on his audience to “remember that faction is the sure precursor of war, devastation and death” (p. 13).

Thomas Whittemore (1800–61), clergyman, editor, and public official, was a native of Boston who moved with his family in 1805 to Charlestown, Massachusetts. He began several apprenticeships before settling into a seven-year term with a shoemaker. After completing this training he spent a year preparing for a career in the Unitarian church. Whittemore was ordained in Milford on 13 June 1821 and moved the following year to lead a congregation in Cambridgeport (later part of Cambridge). With a partner he purchased the Universalist Magazine in 1828 and converted it into a weekly publication entitled the Trumpet and Universalist Magazine. Whittemore soon bought out his partner and continued as owner and editor of the magazine for thirty-three years. He also authored numerous books and pamphlets on religious subjects, including hymnals and The Modern History of Universalism (1830). Whittemore resigned his congregation in Cambridgeport in 1831 due to the demands of his publishing work, but he continued to preach thereafter. He served as a town selectman and as a member of the lower house of the Massachusetts legislature, 1831–33 and again in 1836. Beginning in 1840 Whittemore served as a director and later as president of a bank in Cambridge. He improved the condition of both that institution and of the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad, becoming president of the latter in 1849. Whittemore was active in the founding of Tufts College (later Tufts University). As vice president of the institution’s board of trustees, he oversaw the laying of the school’s cornerstone in 1853. In 1860 the combined value of Whittemore’s assets was $95,000. He died in Cambridge (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Whittemore, The Early Days of Thomas Whittemore. An Autobiography: extending from A. D. 1800 to A. D. 1825 [1859]; John G. Adams, Memoir of Thomas Whittemore, D.D. [1878]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Mass., Cambridge, 1830–60; Rules and Orders to be observed in the House of Representatives, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1831]: 23; [1832]: 24; [1833]: 25; [1836]: 25; Boston Daily Advertiser, 23 Mar. 1861; New York Christian Inquirer, 30 Mar. 1861; gravestone inscription in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge).

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; disputes over origin of search
  • An Oration, pronounced on the Fourth of July, 1821, (by request,) before the Republican Citizens of Milford, Mass. (T. Whittemore) search
  • Chase, Samuel; revolutionary leader search
  • Fourth of July; orations search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Massachusetts; Republicans in search
  • Milford, Mass.; Fourth of July oration given in search
  • Republican party; in Mass. search
  • Whittemore, Thomas; An Oration, pronounced on the Fourth of July, 1821, (by request,) before the Republican Citizens of Milford, Mass. search
  • Whittemore, Thomas; identified search
  • Whittemore, Thomas; letter from search