The University of Delaware Library announces that the letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Bringhurst dated February 24, 1808 and recently discovered in a newly received library collection will be on view on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 and Wednesday, February 24, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Jefferson letter will be located in a secured exhibition case in the Information Room of the Morris Library.
On Thursday, November 5, 2009, two graduate students of the University of Delaware, Amanda Daddona and Matt Davis, found an original letter written by Thomas Jefferson among the many boxes of unsorted early material of the Bringhurst family, from Rockwood, the estate in North Wilmington, now the Rockwood Museum. Rockwood was built between 1851-1854 by Joseph Shipley and owned by the Shipley. The Bringhursts, by marriage and inheritance, were the later owners of Rockwood. They were descendants of Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, who was the recipient of the Jefferson letter. Joseph Bringhurst was the grandfather of Edward Bringhurst, the first of that family name to actually reside in Rockwood. The collected Bringhurst family papers were saved with other family belongings in the mansion.
The Jefferson letter has substantive content with a distinct Delaware connection and was written during the time Jefferson was president. The letter was posted from Washington and addressed to Dr. Joseph Bringhurst, who had informed Jefferson, in a letter of February 16, 1808, about the recent death, in Wilmington, of John Dickinson on February 14, 1808. Thomas Jefferson’s letter is an eloquent tribute and expression of condolence on the loss of Dickinson: “a more estimable man, or truer patriot, could not have left us.” Jefferson said Dickinson was “among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain” and “one of the great worthies of the revolution.” Jefferson described himself in relation to Dickinson and their joint service in the Continental Congress as a “junior companion of his labors in the early part of our revolution.”
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