Thomas Jefferson Papers

J. F. Daniel Lobstein to Thomas Jefferson, 6 September 1822

From J. F. Daniel Lobstein

Lebanon Pva1 Septembre 6. 1822.

Honorable and Respected Sir!

Two years ago I took the freedom to send you by Mr Belair Book Seller in Philadelphia a Prospectus of a work entitled: Topography of Philadelphia etc. which work I had intend to publish on a Subscription in this Country, and you had the goodness to subscribe for a Copy, which flattered me very much, than what could be more honorable to me, than to have the Name of the celebrated and distinguished Jefferson in the list of my subscribers—whereas I have since sending you a Prospectus been buisy with endeavours to complete the Work as much as possible, and have now finished the manuscript, and have a Specification of the contents printed in german, for distribution in Germany, and whereas I understand that you Respected Sir are a protector of the german language, have in your possession many distinguished german works, and can speak the Language; I therefore take the Liberty to send you honorable Sir a specification of my work in german, I should flatter myself very much, and think it a particular honor to recieve your sentiment of the work, wheter you think this work worthy of publication, your sentiment I shall recieve with estimation as all your adwise respecting my work—not with standing the number of subscribers for my work, the expence of Publication is to extravagant so that I am compelled to send the work to Europe for publication, which I am sorry to do, for my circumstances, will at present not admit it—. You will pardon Respected Sir, that I took the freedom to send you a prospectus of my work as rememberance untill I may have the pleasure to do the same of my work as soon as printed, it will therefore give me great pleasure to hear the sentiment of so honorable a Person as Jefferson of my contemplated work.

I have the honor to remain with sentiments of the highest esteeme Your most humble obedient servant

Lobstein M.D.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 6 Oct. 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Johann Friedrich (Jean Frédéric) Daniel Lobstein (1777–1840), physician, was born into a family of doctors in Strasbourg, France. After working for a time at a hospice there, he studied medicine at the Université de Paris, received a medical degree in 1803, and taught briefly in Marburg. Lobstein then joined the French army and served as a military surgeon throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Having returned to Strasbourg in 1815, he went bankrupt, immigrated in 1818 to the United States, and became a naturalized citizen in 1827. He practiced medicine with a specialty in obstetrics, mostly in Philadelphia until 1831 and then in New York City until his death. Lobstein wrote many scholarly works and belonged to numerous learned societies on both sides of the Atlantic (Dictionnaire Encyclopédique des Sciences Médicales, 2d ser. [1864–89], 2:755; Biographisches Lexikon der Hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Völker [1884–88], 4:17; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 25 Sept. 1818; Reading, Pa., Berks and Schuylkill Journal, 16 Sept. 1820; The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1821 [Philadelphia, 1821]; Desilver’s Philadelphia Directory, and Strangers’ Guide. 1831 [1831], 125; 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 [1831]: 414; [1839]: 411).

Lobstein also sent copies of his prospectus in English to James Madison and John Adams, on 19 and 21 Oct. 1822, respectively. He informed Madison that one goal of the projected book was correcting misimpressions of America and persuading European readers that genuine liberty could only be found across the Atlantic (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 2:588–9; MHi: Adams Papers).

The enclosed eight-page specification of the contents printed in german is in DLC: TJ Papers, 223:39768–71. It is an expanded version of the five-page, English-language manuscript in the author’s hand that he had forwarded to TJ through Lewis D. Belair toward the end of 1819 (DLC: TJ Papers, 222:39737–9; see also TJ to Belair, 18 Dec. [1819], and note). The prospectus details Lobstein’s credentials, publications, and future writing plans, and states that the proposed work on Philadelphia will cover a wide range of topics, including architecture, banks, climate, education, gardens, government, law, libraries, manufacturing, medicine, policing, publishing, and religion. The book seems never to have been published.

TJ did not, in fact, understand the german language (TJ to Lobstein, 10 Oct. 1822). He also never owned many publications in that tongue.

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; works sent to search
  • Belair, Lewis Descoins; as bookseller search
  • German language; works in search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; subscriptions search
  • Lobstein, Johann Friedrich Daniel; identified search
  • Lobstein, Johann Friedrich Daniel; letter from search
  • Lobstein, Johann Friedrich Daniel; proposed book by search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); works sent to search
  • Philadelphia; proposed book on search
  • subscriptions, for publications; on Philadelphia search