Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel B. H. Judah to Thomas Jefferson, 12 June 1822

From Samuel B. H. Judah

New York June 12th 1822.

Respected sir

I have the honour to present you a copy of a poem that has obtained some considerable celebrity in this country—but be assured I have not the vanity of sending it thinking it worthy of your notice—but it is forwarded to you as sincere testimony of the reverrance an unknown youth holds the venerable patriot to whom his country owes so much.1 I should never have presumed to forward it faulty as I feel it is but that being flattered by the favorable opinion of several of our most celebrated critics—I presumed that it might amuse you in an hour of leisure—I beg of you not to judge of it by the severe rules of composition as it is the first work of the kind from the pen of a young man scarce sixteen years old—who if it should be his fate to try his pen again feels asured that another production shall do himself and perhaps his country more honour than this

I have the honor to be Yr most obdt Servt

saml B H Judah

RC (CtY: Franklin Collection); addressed (trimmed): “[. . .] Jefferson Esqr Montecillo [N]ear Charlottesville V.”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 June 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Judah, Odofriede; The Outcast; A Dramatic Poem (New York, 1822).

Samuel Benjamin Helbert Judah (ca. 1806–76), author and attorney, was a lifelong resident of New York City. Having received a classical education there, he composed three plays that were produced at a city theater between 1820 and 1823. Enraged that these efforts did not fare better, Judah, writing under the pseudonym of “Terentius Phlogobombus,” published Gotham and the Gothamites, A Medley (New York, 1823), a work in which he satirically attacked over one hundred of his fellow New Yorkers. For this he was convicted of libel, fined $400 plus court costs, and imprisoned when he could not pay. Released after several weeks on the grounds of poor health, Judah then studied law, was admitted to the New York bar in 1825, and made his living thereafter as an attorney. He continued to write, however. His later productions included The Buccaneers; A Romance of our Own Country (1827), the Maid of Midian (1833), and other works. Judah’s personal and real-estate holdings were estimated to be worth $23,000 a few years before his death (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Charles P. Daly, The Settlement of the Jews in North America [1893]: 139–45; New-York Evening Post, 9 Sept. 1823; New York National Advocate, 15 Sept. 1823; Albany Argus, 3 Mar. 1825; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1870; Goulding’s New York City Directory for 1876–’77 [1876], 2:718; New York Co. Surrogate’s Court Will Book, 234:392–412).

Judah also sent copies of Odofriede to John Adams and James Madison, on 12 and 14 June 1822, respectively (MHi: Adams Papers; Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:535–6).

1Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; works sent to search
  • books; of poetry search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Judah, Samuel Benjamin Helbert; identified search
  • Judah, Samuel Benjamin Helbert; letter from search
  • Judah, Samuel Benjamin Helbert; Odofriede; The Outcast; A Dramatic Poem search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); works sent to search
  • Odofriede; The Outcast; A Dramatic Poem (S. B. H. Judah) search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search