Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Bartram, 6 February 1806

Kingsess Febry 6th. 1806.

Dear Sir

At a time when the great & emportant Affairs of the Nation requires so much of Your Time, I must intreat your Excellencys pardon for this entrusion, in covering a Letter to you from my friend M. Wilson.–The gentleman who formerly communicated to you some Drawings of nondescript Canadian Birds, which he met with, when on a pedestrian journey, to view the Cataract of Niagara—

Understanding Sir, that it is your intention to send abroad parties of engenious Men, for the purpose of exploring the Regions of Louisiana lying on the Missisipi and its extensive branches, and envestigating its Natural History, Mr. Willson, having expressed to me, his wishes, and ardent desire, of being employed on that Service, I thought it might be pleasing to you, to recommend to you Notice a character that might be servicable in this splended Enterprise. Mr. Willson is in my opinion as well qualifyed for the department, of drawing and painting in Natural–History as any person We have: He likewise possesses the Art of making preparations in subjects of the productions of Nature In Zuology, Ornithology &c. Mr. Wilson is a Man possessing very liberal scientifick acquirments; Writes well; of irreproachable moral Character, Active, & indefaticable, A decided & firm Republican, agreable to the genuine principles of the Legislative System of United States.

Dr Sir Duty as well as gratitude impells me to offer to Your Excelly. My most sincere thanks and acknowledgments, for the destinguished honour & favour extended to me When you were pleased to select me, as a suitable person for the department of Nat. History in the Voyage up the Red River. The Scene was endeed flattering. But with the utmost regret I was constrained to decline it, on account of my advanced Age & consequent infirmities (being towards 70 Years of Age) And my Eyesight declining dayly: This very flattering Mark of Your Goodness & regard for me, has made a deep empression on my Mind, & will not be effaced from a Heart most sincerely attatched

To Your Excellency, devoted to your Service, and Praying for Your health & happy long Life

William Bartram

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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