Thomas Jefferson Papers

Walker C. Buckner to Thomas Jefferson, 17 July 1822

From Walker C. Buckner

July 17th 1822.

Dear sir,

My name is Buckner. I am a wayfaring man at present, and am in great necessity. I keep my accompts regularly inserted, and am reputed to be a man of as much veracity, and have as good credit as any man in the state of Virginia. I would wish to borrow thirty dollars of you, and I would make a point of paying you in the fall. I have an estate of two thousand dollars coming to me in the fall, (in September.) I heir of my brother Horace Buckner, who was a surgeon in the peace establishment. He died without making a will. I received an elegant education, learning the Greek and Latin, and turning out to work was disagreeable to me. I retain the Latin perfectly. I translated the first page of Ovid’s metamorphoses, and an excellent Latin teacher affirmed that the translation was more elegant than the translation which the translator gave who translated the book page for page. I retain it in memory, and as I have heard that you are very fond of elegant belles-lettres, I will give it an insertion in my letter. It is as follows,

Animus fert dicere formas mutatas in corpora

Nova. Dî, (nam vos et mutastis illas,) coeptis

Adspirate meis, deducite que carmen perpetuum

Ab origine mundi primo ad tempora mea.


My muse induces me to sing of metamorphoses.

Ye gods, (for ye also have transformed the bodies,)

Inspire me in my essays, and spin out one continued story

From the first beginning of the world down to the present time.

Give my compliments to your family. I am, dear sir, With great respect,

Walker C. Buckner.

P.S. I would be very much obliged to you, sir, if you would send me an answer, and should you think proper, you will oblige me very much if you would send me some money as a loan inclosed in the letter, and I will pay you again in the fall.


RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 18 July 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Walker C. Buckner (b. ca. 1789), soldier, was a native of Culpeper County. He was described as a farmer when he enlisted as a private in the United States Army in 1813 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Buckner’s term ended after one year, but he rejoined the service in Petersburg in 1818. His second stint in the military concluded after only six weeks with his discharge “for inability.” Of “unsound mind” according to one source, Buckner was deceased by the end of 1840 (“Records of Men Enlisted in the U.S. Army Prior to the Peace Establishment, May 17, 1815,” p. 36, record no. 7833, and “Records of Men Enlisted in the U.S. Army from May 17, 1815, to 1821, Inclusive,” p. 26, record no. 2170 [DNA: RG 94, RUSAE]; VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 64 [1956]: 366; Richmond Enquirer, 17 Nov. 1840).

Index Entries

  • books; classical search
  • Buckner, Walker C.; and Ovid’sMetamorphoses search
  • Buckner, Walker C.; finances of search
  • Buckner, Walker C.; identified search
  • Buckner, Walker C.; letter from search
  • Buckner, Walker C.; requests loan from TJ search
  • Buckner, William Horace search
  • classics; education in search
  • education; classical search
  • Greek language; study of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; loans requested from search
  • Latin language; study of search
  • Metamorphoses (Ovid); W. C. Buckner’s translation of search
  • Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso); Metamorphoses search