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Dugald Stewart

Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) was a Scottish philosopher and mathematician. Thomas Jefferson was introduced to Stewart in 1788 by Benjamin Vaughan, [1] and they met frequently until Jefferson left Paris in 1789.[2] Jefferson owned one of Stewart's works, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind,[3] and later nominated Stewart for membership in the American Philosophical Society. In 1824, Jefferson asked Stewart to assist Francis Walker Gilmer in finding professors for the new University of Virginia.

Primary Source References[4]

1788 June 6. (Benjamin Vaughan to Jefferson). "I presume for a double reason to give a letter in favor of my friend Mr. Dugald Stewart, as I am well convinced you will have considerable satisfaction in his acquaintance."[5]

1797 June 2. (Jefferson to Stewart). "It is as much as six years ago that I proposed to our Philosophical society to add the respect of your name to the list of their members, which was done at the first ensuing election. The diploma was to have been delivered to me to be transmitted you: but having soon after had occasion to be long absent from the place I desired it to be forwarded, as soon as made out, by the Secretaries..."[6]

1818 January 9. (Jefferson to Robert Walsh). "I place him [Des Tutt Tracy] and Dugald Stewart so much in a line, that I can decide no more than that they are the two greatest men in that line at present known to the world."[7]

1820 March 14. (Jefferson to John Adams). "I became immediately intimate with Stuart [sic], calling mutually on each other and almost daily, during their stay in Paris, which was of some months...Stuart is a great man, and among the most honest living...I consider him and Tracy as the ablest Metaphysicians living..."[8]

1824 April 26. (Jefferson to Stewart). "It is now 35 years since I had the great pleasure of becoming acquainted with you in Paris and since we saw together Louis XVI. led in triumph by his people thro' the streets of his capital...the state of establishing a university...We proceed therefore to the engaging Professors, and anxious to recieve {sic] none but of the highest grade of science in their respective lines we find we must have recourse to Europe where alone that grade is to be found...To make the selection we send a special agent Mr. Francis W. Gilmore who will have the honor of delivering you this letter."[9]


  1. See letter dated 6 June 1788. PTJ 13:241-242.
  2. See Jefferson to John Adams, 14 March 1820, Cannon, Adams-Jefferson Letters, 2:561 and Jefferson to Stewart, 26 April 1824, Massachusetts Historical Society.
  3. Sowerby, 2:5-6.
  5. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  6. PTJ, 13:242.
  7. Ibid, 29:415.
  8. University of Virginia.
  9. Cappon, Adams-Jefferson Letters, 2:561-562.
  10. Massachusetts Historical Society.


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