Thomas Jefferson Papers

Levett Harris to Thomas Jefferson, 3 December 1821

From Levett Harris

Philadelphia 3d December 1821.

dear Sir,

I have lately received from Professor Adelung of St Petersburg, his last work on the general classification of the Languages with a request, that I would tender you a Copy of it, with the homage of his respect.

The Subject treated of in this work, is known to have deeply engaged your researches, and you will hence see with lively interest the result of the labors of this learned philologist.

Mr Adelung is certainly the most distinguished individual in this department of Learning now in Europe, the celebrated1 professor Vater of Konigsberg being now no more, and he having expressed to me an earnest desire to become acquainted with some of the leading Savans of the United-States, especially in the branch which he So Successfully cultivates, I have promoted a correspondence between him and Mr Du Ponceau, who has already derived great personal Satisfaction from it, and who promises to turn it, not less to public benefit.

It was my intention to have renewed my respects to you in person last Summer. Another visit to Monticello, I have however, on reflection, deemed proper to defer, till I shall have Succeeded in trying the cause, which you will recollect I have pending in the Supreme Court of this State.

I feel indeed, that it would be far from pertinent, to trouble you further, or prematurely with the merits of a Contest, which, in your retirement, is so little calculated to inspire You with interest.   Yet, under every circumstance, I Shall consider it not less due to you, to make you fully & freely known to the machinations of a person, who enjoys high credit in this Government—A person with whom few have been more intimate—who professed himself constantly my Sincere friend, till he reached his present elevation, and who is Still Suffered to use the credit attached to the office of Secretary of State to my injury. And all this in defiance of the acknowledged Satisfaction of the President of my honorable conduct, in relation to those points, which had been a Subject of Cabinet investigations, and which, after having been so Settled at Washington, have since become, thro. the secret & immediate agency of Mr Adams an affair of judicial examination in the Tribunals of this State.

In March next, I hope it will be brought to trial, when I shall take an early opportunity to apprize you of its result and of my ulterior purposes respecting it.

It has2 given me great pleasure to learn from our friend Mr Short, of the generally good state of your health. May it long continue to impart to your declining years all that happiness, of which ’tis your destiny to reap so rich a harvest.3

I beg leave to offer my compliments to the Governor and Mrs Randolph and Miss Randolph, and to remain, with Sentiments of the highest respect & Veneration,
Dear Sir—Your most devoted & Obedient Servant

Levett Harris

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Dec. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Friedrich Adelung, Uebersicht aller bekannten Sprachen und ihrer Dialekte (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1820).

1Manuscript: “clebrated.”

2Manuscript: “is has.”

3Manuscript: “havest.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; and accusations against L. Harris search
  • Adelung, Friedrich; and P. S. Du Ponceau search
  • Adelung, Friedrich; as philologist search
  • Adelung, Friedrich; sends work to TJ search
  • Adelung, Friedrich; Uebersicht aller bekannten Sprachen und ihrer Dialekte search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); greetings sent to search
  • Harris, Levett; accusations against search
  • Harris, Levett; and F. Adelung search
  • Harris, Levett; letters from search
  • Harris, Levett; proposed visit of search
  • Harris, Levett; sends book to TJ search
  • Harris, Levett; sends greetings to Randolphs search
  • Harris, Levett; sues W. D. Lewis search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • language; study of search
  • Lewis, William D.; lawsuit against search
  • Monroe, James (1758–1831); presidency of search
  • Pennsylvania; supreme court of search
  • philology; works on search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings sent to search
  • Short, William; and L. Harris search
  • Short, William; and TJ’s health search
  • Uebersicht aller bekannten Sprachen und ihrer Dialekte (F. Adelung) search
  • Vater, Johann Severin; as philologist search