Thomas Jefferson Papers

George F. Hopkins to Thomas Jefferson, [received 29] August 1822

From George F. Hopkins

State of New York, Aug. 1822. [received 29 Aug. 1822]


I submit to your candid examination the Observations which accompany this letter. They had for their basis the quotations from the Notes on Virginia which are prefixed to them. This valuable work I read many years since with delight and edification; and the estimation in which it is held among men of sense and letters, must insure to it a durable fame.

Whatever may be the worth of the observations, there is no person to whom they can be submitted with so much propriety as to yourself. The reasons for this it were unnecessary to enumerate. Should it be your opinion, after you have given the humble performance a perusal, that it possesses sufficient merit to entitle it to publicity, I beg permission to add to it such remarks as you may think proper to offer in relation to it.

I am aware that I have undertaken to treat of subjects that are better fitted for men of infinitely higher qualifications than those to which I can make pretension. Believing, however, that the explanations I have given are founded in truth, I submit them respectfully to your examination; conscious, as I am, that notwithstanding the defects with which the performance will be seen to abound, it will receive such commendation from an enlightened mind as it may be justly entitled to. More cannot be expected.

As I must presume that in some instances at least, and perhaps in many, appropriate terms may not be made use of, I have left a margin on each page, in order that more correct words or phrases may be1 substituted. In this respect, permit me to request of you to make such corrections as may appear to you expedient and proper.

If the attempt2 receives your sanction, I propose to commit it to press as soon as it shall be returned to me; but this will be done anonymously, as I have powerful reasons for choosing such a course.

With the highest respect,

I am, Sir, Your most hum. servt

Geo. F. Hopkins.

N.B. Please direct to me at the New York post office.

RC (MHi); partially dated; addressed: “The Hon. Thos Jefferson, Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of “Aug.—1822” received 29 Aug. 1822 from New York and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: manuscript copy, not found, of “Hortensius,” Observations on Electricity, Looming, and Sounds (New York, 1822; 2d ed., naming Hopkins as author, New York, 1825), which opens with a series of quotations on warm bodies of air and looming from Query VII of TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia (Peden, Notes, 77, 80–1).

George Folliet Hopkins (ca. 1769–1848), printer, stationer, and customs inspector, published the New-Jersey State Gazette in Trenton, 1793–94, two newspapers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1795–96, and four others in New York City in conjunction with Noah Webster later in the decade. In addition to his printing activities, he manufactured and sold paper, served as a lieutenant in the militia in 1802, and was active around that time in the organization of the American Company of Booksellers, a pioneering trade association. Having gone bankrupt in 1821, Hopkins continued to work as a publisher, wrote a monograph on meteorology, relocated to Brooklyn by 1828, and served as a customs inspector, 1829–48. He died in Rahway, New Jersey (John Bidwell, American Paper Mills, 1690–1832 [2013], 147, 308; Joseph J. Felcone, New Jersey Books, 1698–1800: The Joseph J. Felcone Collection [1992], 18–21; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends ; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1797]: 206; [1800]: 232; [1828]: 320; [1842]: 317; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1800, 1810, Brooklyn, 1830; New York American Citizen and General Advertiser, 4 May 1802; New York American Citizen, 21 June 1803; Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 23 Apr. 1804; New York National Advocate, 25 May 1821; A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1829 [1830], 48; Doggett’s New-York City Directory, for 1847 & 1848 [1847], 203; Middletown, Conn., Constitution, 30 Aug. 1848).

1Hopkins here canceled “made use.”

2Word interlined in place of “performance.”

Index Entries

  • books; on meteorology search
  • Hopkins, George Folliet; identified search
  • Hopkins, George Folliet; letter from search
  • Hopkins, George Folliet; Observations on Electricity, Looming, and Sounds (written as “Hortensius”) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • looming, phenomenon of search
  • meteorology; works on search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); and weather search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); G. F. Hopkins on search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); phenomenon of looming discussed in search
  • Observations on Electricity, Looming, and Sounds (“Hortensius” [G. F. Hopkins]) search
  • weather; heat search