Thomas Jefferson Papers

Francis Adrian Van der Kemp to Thomas Jefferson, 10 December 1821

From Francis Adrian Van der Kemp

Olden barneveld 10 Dec. 1821.

Dear and High-Respected Sir!

I should hesitate, to intrude on your moments of Leisure, with my unprofitable correspondence, did I not feel persuaded, that it would1 not be unacceptable to be informed of my continued health; and I am more encouraged to it, by reflecting on the numerous kindnesses, which you was pleased to bestow upon me, though personally unknown, ever Since my arrival in this country in 1788—and to whose influential introduction I am endebted to numerous favours of others.

I do not presume—to Solicit an answer—but perhaps you may not deem it amiss—to gratify me, by one of your family with a line2 that you too are blessed with health—which I pray the Almighty may crown your last days with—for your Relatives, Friend’s and countrys Sake.

I mentioned in a former Letter, that I continued with translating the old Dutch Record—illustrating these here and there, where it was in my power—and observed, that a commercial intercourse took place—between Virginia and the N. Netherland—and Several interesting Negotiations—several Dutch commercial house being established in Virginia—   Now I find, that the same intercourse took place between Virginia and Curacao as early as 1655. I presume—the Virginians carried hither victuals—It is Sure—they obtained from there Stock-fish-hout—(yellow dying wood) TurtlesManatinor Sea-cow flesh and horses—Did they not obtain Negros from Curacao?   I proceed now with 5 vol—Relative to Curacao—in which I met with Several interesting articles, as well as in the former Record—I have now finished 20 vol. in Fol—and—if my days are prolonged, and my weak Sight—being Scarce able to read by candle-light—preserved—or I shall accomplish this arduous task—as it is in part dilacerated—in part effaced and mouldered away—within two years.

Would you have believed before of the Dutch Boors—that Stuyvesand—in a Treaty with the Indians—inserted an article, that their Children—should be educated in N. Amsterdam—which was accepted?—So too—in the Instruction for the Vice-Director of Curacao—was an article—to establish Schools for the Natives.   He was indeed a great man, although now little known.—

Did the Virginians trade with the West-Indian Islands—after the N. Netherlands were Surrendered to the British?3 the N. Engl-men were, if I am not mistaken, more confined—than formerly.

I should willingly have touched other topics, but am unwilling to abuse your Indulgence—though I can not but hope—that the luminous rays of reason and truth—now corruscating—even in this State evry where, shall not Longer be confined in Virginia to Monticello—

Georg. Juranis published last year in Germany a Latin work—against New-ton’s theory on the motion of the celestial bodies, offering a reward of ƒ100 to the writer, who should refute his arguments.

Permit me to solicit the continuance of your good opinion—while I take the Liberty to assure you, that I remain with the highest consideration

Dear and High Respected Sir! Your most obed. & obliged.

Fr. Adr. van der kemp

P.s.  my venerable friend J. Adams enjoys yet all his mental powers—and a tolerable State of health—

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 221:39477–8); dateline adjacent to closing; mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter of 16 Dec. 1821 received 30 Dec. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with Dft of TJ to Moritz Furst, 20 Apr. 1824, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson LL.D at his Seat Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Trenton, N.Y., 11 Dec.

Stockfish-wood (stock-fish-hout) is “an American wood resembling logwood” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). manatin: “manatee.” dilacerated: torn asunder; torn in pieces (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

Peter Stuyvesant (stuyvesand), director general of New Netherland, stipulated in a 6 Mar. 1660 treaty with certain Indian tribes from New York and New Jersey that some of their children be left in New Amsterdam to be educated by the Dutch (E. B. O’Callaghan and Berthold Fernow, eds., Documents relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York [1853–87], 13:147–9). On 8 June 1655 Stuyvesant had previously directed the new vice-director of curacao, Matthias Beck, to urge the island’s native parents to allow their children to be educated in the Dutch language and Dutch Reformed religion (Charles T. Gehring, trans. and ed., and Jacob A. Schiltkamp, transcriber and ed., Curacao Papers, 1640–1665 [1987], 71–7).

György Juranits (georg. juranis) published his Praecipuum Atque fundamentalem in Neutoniana motuum Planetariorum Theoria errorem Pluribus demonstrat argumentis in Pest (later incorporated into Budapest, Hungary) in 1818, not last year in germany. He announced an award of one hundred guldens (ƒ100) to anyone who could write an essay disproving his arguments against Isaac Newton’s gravitational theory of planetary motion (Intelligenzblatt der österreichischen Literatur [3 July 1819], in Erneuerte vaterländische Blätter für den österreichischen Kaiserstaat [1819]; Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung 1 [1820]: 615–6).

1Manuscript: “it would it.”

2Preceding three words interlined.

3Manuscript: “Britsih.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; friendship with F. A. Van der Kemp search
  • Adams, John; health of search
  • Beck, Matthias; as vice director of Curaçao search
  • Curaçao; and slave trade search
  • Curaçao; public records of search
  • Curaçao; trade with colonial Va. search
  • education; of Indians search
  • horses; from Curaçao search
  • Indians, American; education of search
  • Indians, American; treaties with search
  • Juranits, György; Praecipuum Atque fundamentalem in Neutoniana motuum Planetariorum Theoria errorem Pluribus demonstrat argumentis search
  • Latin language; works in search
  • manatees search
  • New England; trade of, with West Indies search
  • Newton, Sir Isaac; gravitational theory of search
  • New York (state); commerce of search
  • New York (state); public records of search
  • Praecipuum Atque fundamentalem in Neutoniana motuum Planetariorum Theoria errorem Pluribus demonstrat argumentis (G. Juranits) search
  • slave trade; and Curaçao search
  • Stuyvesant, Peter; as colonial governor of N.Y. search
  • turtles search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and N.Y. public records search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and TJ’s health search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; friendship with J. Adams search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; health of search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; letters from search
  • Virginia; trade with colonial N.Y. search
  • Virginia; trade with West Indies search
  • West Indies; trade with search