Thomas Jefferson Papers

American Antiquarian Society to Thomas Jefferson, [received 7 April 1822]

From the American Antiquarian Society

[received 7 Apr. 1822]


HEREWITH you will receive a Report on the state of The American Antiquarian Society, made at the Annual Meeting in October last. The facts it discloses, it is presumed you will be gratified to learn, as they evince its respectable standing and condition. But to communicate this, is not the only motive for addressing you on the present occasion.

It is now nearly a year since the Society published the first volume of its Transactions and Collections. This it was enabled to do, by the liberality of the President. No aid was previously solicited, and no pledge was asked from its friends that they would afterwards contribute, by purchasing the work, towards a remuneration for the expense. It was sent into the world, relying on its intrinsick merits for a favourable reception, not only from the students of science, and the labourers in the field of Antiquarian research, but from the enlightened and discriminating among the more able patrons of literature. With regard to its reception in a literary point of view, the Society has reason for self-congratulation. It has been respectfully noticed, not only in America, but in Europe; and we hope has contributed to elevate the reputation of our country in distant nations, and to gratify the curiosity, and to excite the inquiries of some of the most illustrious among the learned of the age. Notwithstanding which, but few copies have been sold; and, extensively as it has been circulated, it has gained no other recompense to the publishers, than the honour of having contributed to the general stock of valuable information. It is still desirable that the Society should continue its Publications, as materials shall be collected. It is unnecessary to offer any arguments to shew the utility of such a course as respects the interests of the Society, independent of any advantages which may be supposed to arise from it to the cause of science; for it is obviously of little importance to collect facts and opinions, however valuable, relating to the subjects which fall within its scope, unless the publick are made acquainted with them: while the inducement to communicate may reasonably be presumed to be increased, as the prospect of usefulness, and the chance of sharing the well-earned rewards of honourable exertion are more clear and distinct.

It is from these considerations that the Members of the Publishing Committee, resident in the town of Worcester, have been appointed a Committee for the purpose of preparing and addressing to you the annexed Proposal, and to solicit your subscription, and that of such of your friends as may be disposed to unite with you.

The Committee improve this occasion, in behalf of the Government, again to request of you, also, such aid as from time to time you may have it in your power to afford, by donations of Articles for preservation in the Library and Cabinet, together with such information as you may possess and obtain on those subjects which it is its object to elucidate.

It is requested that the names of Subscribers be forwarded to the Recording Secretary, at Worcester, by the first of June next.


Printed circular (DLC: TJ Papers, 221:39435); undated; subjoined to enclosed report; at head of text: “(CIRCULAR.)”; endorsed by TJ on verso of enclosed prospectus as received 7 Apr. 1822 from “Bancroft Aaron. Worcester.”

Aaron Bancroft (1755–1839), Unitarian clergyman and author, was born in Reading, Massachusetts. He matriculated at Harvard College (later Harvard University) in 1774 and graduated four years later. Bancroft afterwards studied theology and served as a missionary in Nova Scotia, 1780–83. Having been rejected for the Congregational pastorate in Worcester due to his liberal theology, his supporters formed a second church there, where Bancroft officiated from 1786 until 1827. His numerous published writings and sermons included an Essay on the Life of George Washington (Worcester, 1807; 2d ed., Boston, 1826), and Sermons on those Doctrines of the Gospel, and on those Constituent Principles of the Church, which Christian Professors have made the subject of controversy (Worcester, 1822; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 10 [no. 544]). Bancroft was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1805 and served as a vice president of the American Antiquarian Society, 1816–31. He helped found the American Unitarian Association in 1825 and was its president until 1836. Bancroft died in Worcester (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Alonzo Hill, A Discourse on the Life and Character of the Rev. Aaron Bancroft, D. D. [1839]; Sprague, American Pulpit description begins William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, 1857–69, 9 vols. description ends , 8:132–40; Boston Columbian Centinel, 17 July 1805; Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1812–1849 [1912]; gravestone inscription in Worcester Rural Cemetery).

Samuel Jennison (1788–1860), banker, was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts. He worked in his uncle’s store in Worcester from 1800 until 1810. In the latter year Jennison became an accountant for the Worcester Bank, then rose to cashier, 1812–46. He also served as treasurer of the Worcester County Institution for Savings, 1828–53, and treasurer of the State Lunatic Hospital, 1847–57. Jennison was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814 and served the institution in various capacities, including as its treasurer, 1829–43 and 1846–60. Many of his poems and biographical essays were printed anonymously in local newspapers. In 1850 Jennison owned real estate valued at $11,000. He died in Worcester (Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society [1880–1908], 4:31–9; American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings [25 Apr. 1860]: 5–11; Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1812–1849 [1912]; MWA: Jennison Family Papers; DNA: RG 29, CS, Mass., Worcester, 1850; Boston Daily Advertiser, 13 Mar. 1860; gravestone inscription in Worcester Rural Cemetery).

Edward Dillingham Bangs (1790–1838), attorney and public official, was a lifelong resident of Worcester who began practicing law there in 1812. A staunch Republican, he represented Worcester in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1816, 1817, and 1820, and was a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1820–21. Elected to the American Antiquarian Society in 1819, he served it at various times as a counsellor and assistant treasurer. Bangs was appointed county attorney in 1824 and later that year was elected secretary of state of Massachusetts, holding the latter post until 1836 (William T. Davis, Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1895], 2:41, 357; MWA: Bangs Family Papers; Worcester National Ægis, 16 Dec. 1812; Resolves of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1816–17, 1820]; Journal of Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of Delegates, chosen to revise the Constitution of Massachusetts [Boston, 1821]; Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1812–1849 [1912]; Boston Liberator, 13 Apr. 1838).

The president of the American Antiquarian Society was Isaiah Thomas. The recording secretary was Rejoice Newton.

Index Entries

  • American Antiquarian Society; Archæologia Americana: Transactions and Collections search
  • American Antiquarian Society; collections of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; I. Thomas as president of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; letter from search
  • American Antiquarian Society; meetings of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; R. Newton as recording secretary of search
  • American Antiquarian Society; report of search
  • Archæologia Americana: Transactions and Collections search
  • Bancroft, Aaron; as vice president of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Bancroft, Aaron; identified search
  • Bangs, Edward Dillingham; as member of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Bangs, Edward Dillingham; identified search
  • Burnside, Samuel McGregore; as corresponding secretary of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jennison, Samuel; as member of American Antiquarian Society search
  • Jennison, Samuel; identified search
  • Newton, Rejoice; as recording secretary of American Antiquarian Society search
  • subscriptions, for publications; journals search
  • Thomas, Isaiah; and American Antiquarian Society search