Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Rejoice Newton, 8 December 1821

To Rejoice Newton

Monticello Dec. 8. 21.


I owe my thanks to the American Antiquarian society for the honor done me some time since, in electing me a member of their useful and much respected society, of which I recieve a diploma attested by yourself. I accept it as a mark of their good will, and not with the hope of meriting it by any service I can render. I may say with Seneca ‘senex sum, et curis levissimis impar.’ age and weakened health render me no longer equal to the labors of science. with my thanks for this mark of attention, do me the favor to tender them, and to accept yourself the assurance of my high consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (MWA: American Antiquarian Society Archives); at foot of text: “Mr Rejoice Newton Recording Secretary of the American Antiquarian Society”; addressed: “Mr Rejoice Newton Worcester. Mass.”; franked; postmarked Milton, 10 Dec. PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of Mathew Carey & Son to TJ, 5 Aug. 1820; endorsed by TJ.

Rejoice Newton (1782–1868), attorney and public official, was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1807. He began practicing law in Worcester in 1810 and served as the Worcester County attorney from 1818 until 1824. Newton represented Worcester in the Massachusetts legislature as a representative, 1828–31, and a senator, 1834. Between 1824 and 1831 he was president of the Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and he served as the recording secretary of the American Antiquarian Society, 1815–54. Newton died in Worcester (Ermina Newton Leonard, comp., Newton Genealogy [1915], 708; General Catalogue of Dartmouth College and the associated schools, 1769–1925 [1925], 115; MWA: Newton Family Papers; William Lincoln and Charles Hersey, History of Worcester, Massachusetts [1862], esp. 202, 273, 392; Massachusetts Spy, or Worcester Gazette, 26 Sept. 1810; Boston Daily Advertiser, 12 June 1818; Massachusetts Spy and Worcester Advertiser, 25 Feb. 1824; Massachusetts Register, and United States Calendar [1829]: 23; [1830]: 24; [1831]: 24; [1834]: 34; American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings [29 Apr. 1868]: 19; Boston Post, 6 Feb. 1868; gravestone inscription in Worcester Rural Cemetery).

An image of the diploma sent to TJ at this time and showing his 1 June 1814 date of election to the American Antiquarian Society, which TJ noted was postmarked Worcester, 22 Nov., is reproduced elsewhere in this volume. The diploma was sent to TJ under an address cover (RC: top half of address cover only [DLC], with Dft of TJ to Philip I. Barziza, 21 Mar. 1824, on verso; bottom half of address cover only [DLC], with Dft of TJ to H. C. Carey & I. Lea, 21 Mar. 1824, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson LL.D. Monticello, Virginia”; postmarked Worcester, 22 Nov.). senex sum, et curis levissimis impar is a variant of the apology by Seneca the Younger to the Roman emperor Nero for being “an old man and unequal to the lightest of cares,” quoted in Tacitus, Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the Library of Congress Digital Collections website and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers.) description ends , 14.54 (Tacitus, trans. Maurice Hutton, William Peterson, Clifford H. Moore, John Jackson, and others, Loeb Classical Library [1914–37; repr. ca. 2006], 5:192–3).

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on his own search
  • American Antiquarian Society; and TJ’s membership diploma search
  • American Antiquarian Society; R. Newton as recording secretary of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; TJ elected a member of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; aging search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; debility search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Honors & Memberships; American Antiquarian Society, membership search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Literary Quotes; Tacitus search
  • Newton, Rejoice; as recording secretary of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Newton, Rejoice; identified search
  • Newton, Rejoice; letter to search
  • Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca); TJ quotes search
  • Tacitus, Cornelius; TJ quotes search