Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jesse C. Young to Thomas Jefferson, 5 December 1821

From Jesse C. Young

Troy (N.Y.) Dcr. 5, 1821.


I herewith send for your perusal a copy of “Murray’s English Grammar Simplified,”1 by Allen Fisk, a Gentleman of this city; which you will be pleased to consider as an offering to yourself.

My motive in sending the above mentioned volume to you sir, is, that you may be pleased to give it, (if consistant with your other avocations,) an attentive perusal; and if you should find it to contain a well digested plan for the more speedy attainment of a correct knowledge of the principles of the English Language, that you may be pleased to give it such recommendation as you in your judgement may see fit.

Being myself but an unletered mechanic, I am unable to point out its beauties, or its defects—in fact did I possess a common knowledge of the primary rules of the English Language, it would be considered presumption in me to endeavour to shew its qualities when soliciting the avowed approbation2 of Thomas Jefferson.

You will be pleased to bear in mind that this is but an abridgement of the work, and that a larger volume, for the use of more advanced Scholars, will shortly follow, provided the work meets with the approbation of those qualified to judge.—I am a young man, and have purchased the copy right, and at present my hopes of a future competency rest upon the success of this production—but without entering into a detail of private circumstances, (which must be uninteresting to you,) I should be pleased if after a perusal of the volume, you should see fit to recommend it, that you will with all convenient3 speed address me a few lines, as I am now waiting for recommendations before I lay it before the public.

With sentiments of respect, I am, &c
Jesse C. Young,

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of text: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Dec. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Allen Fisk, Murray’s English Grammar Simplified; Designed to abridge and facilitate the study of the English language by enabling the instructor to teach without the aid of his birch, and the student to learn without the drudgery of committing to memory what he does not understand. On a New Plan (Lansingburgh, 1821).

Jesse Comstock Young (1797–1880), publisher and farmer, was born in Lansingburgh (later part of Troy), New York. He published the Lansingburgh Rensselaer County Gazette, 1826–28, and its short-lived successor, the Lansingburgh Democrat and Rensselaer County Gazette, 1828. By 1854 Young lived in Islip as a farmer with an interest in cranberry cultivation, and a decade later as a conveyancer. When he died there his occupation was listed as bookbinder (Arthur J. Weise, History of Lansingburgh, N. Y. from the year 1670 to 1877 [1877], 40–1; Schenectady Cabinet, 25 Oct. 1826; New-York Observer 39 [1861]: 352; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., Suffolk Co., Islip, 1860, 1870, 1880 mortality schedules; gravestone inscription in Lake Ronkonkoma Cemetery, New York).

The enclosed abridgement by Fisk of a grammatical textbook by Lindley Murray was printed in Troy by Francis Adancourt and published by Young. The following year Adancourt printed Fisk’s larger distillation of Murray’s work, which was published in Troy by Zephaniah Clark.

1Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

2Manuscript: “aprobation.”

3Manuscript: “convienent.”

Index Entries

  • Adancourt, Francis; as printer search
  • books; on grammar search
  • Clark, Zephaniah; as publisher search
  • English language; books on grammar of search
  • Fisk, Allen; editsMurray’s English Grammar Simplified (L. Murray) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; requested to review books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Murray, Lindley; Murray’s English Grammar Simplified (ed. A. Fisk) search
  • Murray’s English Grammar Simplified (L. Murray; ed. A. Fisk) search
  • Young, Jesse Comstock; identified search
  • Young, Jesse Comstock; letter from search
  • Young, Jesse Comstock; sends work to TJ search