James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 21 June 1791

From Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia June 21. 1791.

Dear Sir

I arrived here on Sunday evening. Yesterday I sent your note to Lieper1 who immediately called & paid the 200 Dollars, which I have exchanged for a post note & now inclose. I mentioned to the Atty. Gen. that I had a note on him, & afterwards sent it to him, saying nothing as to time. I inclose you also a post note for 35. Dollars to make up my deficit of expences (25.94 D.) to pay mr. Elsworth & the smith, & also to get me from Rivington’s Hamilton More’s practical navigator, if his be the 6th. edn., as I believe it is.2 This is the last edn. revised & printed under the author’s eye. The later edns. are so incorrect as to be worth nothing.

The President will leave Mt. Vernon on the 27th. He will be stayed a little at Georgetown. Colo. H. Lee is here. He gives a very different account from Carrington’s of the disposition of the upper country of Virginia towards the Excise law. He thinks resistance possible. I am sorry we did not bring with us some leaves of the different plants which struck our attention, as it is the leaf which principally decides specific differences. You may still have it in your power to repair the omission in some degree. The Balsam tree at Govr. Robinson’s is the Balsam poplar, Populus balsamifera of Linnaeus. The Azalea I can only suspect to be the Viscosa, because I find but two kinds the nudiflora Vizscosa acknoleged to grow with us, & I am sure it is not the nudiflora. The White pine is the Pinus Strobus. I will thank you if in your journey Northward you will continue the enquiries relative to the Hessian fly, & note them.3 The post is almost on it’s departure so Adieu. Your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); FC, Tr (DLC: Jefferson Papers). RC addressed by Jefferson and franked.

1Thomas Leiper, the Philadelphia merchant.

2John Hamilton Moore, The Practical Navigator and Seaman’s New Daily Assistant (6th ed.; London, 1781).

3Jefferson, then one of three vice-presidents of the American Philosophical Society, was chairman of a committee “to collect materials for forming the natural history of the Hessian fly, the best means of preventing or destroying it &c.” The committee (which also included Benjamin Smith Barton, James Hutchinson, and Caspar Wistar) issued a broadside soliciting information on the insect (Malone, Jefferson and the Rights of Man, p. 324; Jefferson to Charles Thomson, 20 Apr. 1791 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]; American Philosophical Society, At a Meeting of the Committee Appointed … for … Collecting … Materials,… April 17th, 1792 [Philadelphia, 1792; Evans supp. description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 46375]). Jefferson had taken notes on the Hessian fly, which destroyed wheat crops, during his trip with JM through New York and New England and had discussed the destructive insect with Ezra L’Hommedieu of Southold in Suffolk County, Long Island (Notes on the Hessian Fly, [1791], and L’Hommedieu to Jefferson, 10 Sept. 1791 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]).

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