Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Mr. Jefferson's Library
This is a follow-up to the previous post about the bicentennial of the burning of the Library of Congress. As I mentioned in the post, the destruction of the collection of the Library of Congress led to the eventual purchase of the library of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson first offered to sell his library as a replacement for the destroyed collection in a letter to Samuel H. Smith on September 21, 1814. In the letter Jefferson asks Smith to submit his offer to the library committee of Congress. A copy of the letter was published in the Niles' Weekly Register of October 20, 1814. I have a copy of that issue of the Niles' Weekly Register for that date in my collection and Jefferson's letter is shown above. Jefferson's library which was eventually sold to Congress for $23,950 consisted of 6,487 volumes, more than double the number of volumes lost in the fire. A more complete account of Jefferson's library and its conveyance to Congress is contained on the Library of Congress website. There is also a link on the site to the original hand written letter from Jefferson. Also check out the Thomas Jefferson page on LibraryThing.