Thomas Jefferson Papers

Anonymous (Henry Whiting) to Thomas Jefferson, 7 June 1822

From Anonymous (Henry Whiting)

June 7. 1822.

To Mr Jefferson.

There is scarcely a young man in the United States, who is not desirous of having among his future recollections, that he has shown some mark of respect to the Patriot and Sage of Monticello. The person who takes the liberty of presenting to Mr Jefferson the accompanying little work, does it with no other view; and only regrets that his humble character & name oblige him to do it thus anonymously.

It is not expected that the eye of aged wisdom will dwell even for a moment upon the simple text; but the illustrations, sanctioned by a known and respectable name, may afford some gratification to a mind, which has been accustomed, in earlier years, to investigate the condition of our aborigines, with a deep & philanthropic interest.

Most respectfully written, with an earnest prayer for Mr Jefferson’s continued health and happiness.

RC (DLC); in Whiting’s hand; dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as an anonymous letter covering the “poem Ontwa” received 15 June 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: [Whiting?], Ontwa, the Son of the Forest. A Poem (New York, 1822).

Henry Whiting (1788–1851), soldier and author, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts. He joined the United States Army as a cornet of light dragoons in 1808 and transferred to the infantry in 1815 and the artillery in 1821. Whiting was promoted to second lieutenant in 1809, first lieutenant in 1811, captain in 1817, major in 1835, lieutenant colonel in 1838, and colonel in 1846. He was given the brevet ranks of captain in 1814 for meritorious service during the War of 1812 and brigadier general in 1847 for gallantry at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War. Whiting served as a quartermaster, 1835–38, deputy quartermaster general, 1838–46, and assistant quartermaster general, 1846–51. In addition to Ontwa, which is usually attributed to him, he published the long narrative poem Sannillac in 1831. A resident of New York City owning real estate worth $2,000 in 1850, Whiting died in Saint Louis, Missouri, and was buried in Detroit, Michigan (Henry S. Nourse, ed., The Birth, Marriage and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643–1850 [1890], 118; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:1030; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1850; New York Evening Post, 23 Sept. 1851; gravestone inscription in Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit).

The verbal illustrations in Ontwa were taken from manuscripts in the possession of Lewis Cass, the longtime governor of Michigan Territory.

Index Entries

  • anonymous authors; letters from search
  • books; of poetry search
  • Cass, Lewis; andOntwa, the Son of the Forest. A Poem (H. Whiting?) search
  • Indians, American; works on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; anonymous letters to search
  • Ontwa, the Son of the Forest. A Poem (H. Whiting?) search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search
  • Whiting, Henry; andOntwa, the Son of the Forest. A Poem search
  • Whiting, Henry; identified search
  • Whiting, Henry; letter from search