JEFFERSON, THOMAS Letter signed to Dr. Samuel Brown regarding the effect of high importation tariffs on books on American education, with franking signature on original cover
. Monticello: 28 September 1821. Two page letter on recto and verso of one sheet, signed "Th. Jefferson" at end and with Brown's name, the word "Transylvania" and three corrections in his hand, the letter in the hand of Nicholas P. Trist (see note), the original mailing envelope present with Jefferson's free frank and address in his hand. 8 3/4 x 7 7/8 inches (25.5 x 20.5 cm). The letter with a clean split along the lowest horizontal fold, small punctures at other fold points, short split and short tear along another fold, some old stains, dampstain to envelope touching signature.
An important Jefferson circular calling for the reduction of tariffs on imported books to promote American education - this copy sent to Dr. Samuel Brown, the first professor of medicine west of the Alleghenies, at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. In the letter, Jefferson describes how the high tariff on imported books was originally intended to encourage American printers but was currently having the affect of preventing the growth of American industry as certain profession specific works were not being published in the United States. He poignantly writes: "Science is more important in a republican than in any other government, and in an infant country like ours we must much depend for improvement on the science of other countries, longer established, possessing better means, and more advanced than we are. To prohibit us from the benefit of foreign light, is to consign us to long darkness." The letter is accompanied by a letter from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, reporting that the text is in the hand of Trist, who had married Jefferson's granddaughter, and was in fact a circular. While Jefferson would regularly mail an original letter and retain a pantograph for his records, in this case the Library of Congress owns Jefferson's original manuscript draft, with a space left open for the insertion of a college name as here, and had Trist copy the letter from the draft for dispersal. For another example of this rare circular, see Thomas Jefferson to Hutchins Gordon Burton, College at Chapel Hill, also 28 September 1821.
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