Quotations on Botany

1778 June 8. (to Giovanni Fabbroni). "I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but I am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you."[1]

1786 August 27. (to Thomas Mann Randolph). "I shall propose to you that it be extensive, comprehending Astronomy, Natural Philosophy (or Physics), Natural history, Anatomy, Botany and Chemistry. No inquisitive mind will be content to be ignorant of any one of these branches...Your own country furnishes the most aliment for Natural history, Botany and Physics, and as you express a fondness for the former you might make it your principal object, endeavouring however to make myself more acquainted with the two latter than with other branches likely to be less useful. In fact you will find botany offering it's charms to you at every step during summer, and Physics in every season. All these branches of science will be better attained by attending courses of lectures in them."[2]

1789 March 24. (to John Willard). "The return of la Peyrouse...will probably add to our knowledge in Geography, botany and natural history. What a feild [sic] have we at our doors to signalize ourselves in! The botany of America is far from being exhausted: it's Mineralogy is untouched, and it's Natural history or Zoology totally mistaken and misrepresented."[3]

1791 June 5. (to Thomas Mann Randolph). "We were more pleased however with the botanical objects which continually presented themselves [on NY/New England journey]."[4]

1791 June 21. (to James Madison). "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."[5]

1807 September 24. (to Benjamin Smith Barton). "We defer therefore till this time twelve month to avail ourselves of the instruction of that place, and particularly of your kindness in the two branches of Botany and Natural history to which we wish him [Thomas Jefferson Randolph] particularly to apply."[6]

1808 October 12. (to Benjamin Smith Barton). "In the spring he [Thomas Jefferson Randolph] will attend your botanical course. His natural turn is very strongly to the objects of your two courses of lectures, and I hope you will have reason to be contended with his capacity and character."[7]

1810 October 22. (to Benjamin Smith Barton). "Botany here is but an object of amusement, a great one indeed and in which all our family mingles more or less. Mr. Randolph is our leader, and a good one. My mind has been so long ingrossed [sic] by other objects, that those I loved most have escaped from it, and none more than botany, whose lodgement is made peculiarly in the memory."[8]

1814 February 22. (to John Manners). "But with this objection, lying but in a small degree, Linnaeus' method was received, understood, and conventionally settled among the learned, and was even getting into common use. To disturb it then was unfortunate. The new system attempted in botany, by Jussieu, in mineralogy, by Hauy, are subjects of the same regret...In botany, Wildenow and Persoon have incorporated into Linnaeus the new discovered plants."[9]

1814 October 7. (to Thomas Cooper). "Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies. To the gentleman it is certainly more interesting than Mineralogy...and is more at hand for his amusement; and to a country family it constitutes a great portion of their social entertainment. No country gentleman should be without what amuses every step he takes into his fields."[10]

1826 April 26. (to John Emmet). "It is time to think of the introduction of the school of Botany into our institution..."[11]


  1. PTJ, 2:196.
  2. ibid, 10:306.
  3. Ibid, 14:699.
  4. Ibid, 20:465.
  5. Ibid, 20:560.
  6. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page039.db&recNum=515
  7. Ibid. http://www.loc.gov/
  8. Ibid. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page044.db&recNum=1222
  9. Ibid. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page047.db&recNum=289
  10. Ibid. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page047.db&recNum=867
  11. L&B, 16:163.

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