Letterbooks Volume 01, 1780-1791

(in progress)

Vol. 01, p. 6

Ebenezer Hazard to James Bowdoin, 1780 July 8

Jamaica Plain July 8th. 1780.


Permit me, as a Friend to all Establishments which have a Tendency to promote useful Knowledge, to congratulate you upon the Institution of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and to add my warmest Wishes for the Success of so laudable a Design.

As it will doubtless be a Part of the Society’s Plan to form a Museum of the natural Productions of the Country, as well as to investigate the Properties of each, and the Uses to which it may be applied, I beg Leave to send you a Piece of the Asbestos, and some Pyrites, both natives of Pennsylvania. The former I received from the ingenious David Rittenhouse, Esquire, who informed me he had used some of the Filaments of it (soon after it was taken out of the Earth) as Wick for a Lamp; but having been long exposed to the Air, it now wears the Appearance of a Petrefaction [sic]. Even in this State it is fissile, and may be easily split length-wise.

The Pyrites I collected at Lancaster, where they are found in great Plenty: _ they contain Sulphur; and, notwithstanding the Regularity and Polish of some of them, are in their natural State.

My Employment under Congress, as Surveyor General of the Post Offices and Roads in the Eastern District, frequently affords me Opportunities of collecting Specimens of various Kinds; and should these now sent prove acceptable, I shall take the Liberty, from Time to Time, of adding others as they occur.

I have the Honor to be,
Your most obedient and very hum Servt.

Eben Hazard


The Honorable
James Bowdoin Esquire

Ebenezer Hazard Esqr.
July 8. 1780

Read July 12. 1780

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Vol. 01, p. 7

Samuel Mather to James Bowdoin, 1780 November 6

Boston. Novr. 6th 1780.

Honoured Sir,

As I find my Name inserted among the names of the Members of the [underline] New Academy [end underline] erected among us; and I perceive your Honour to be the chosen President of it; I think it my Duty to inform you, and so the Academy, that I esteem it honorary to be reckoned worthy to be placed as a Member among you.

I am too far advanced in Life to attend the Meetings of the Academy. And although I dare not form the Wish, O mihi praeteritas referat ut Jupiter Annos! yet I must own, that, if I was thirty or forty years younger, it would have been a much greater Satisfaction to me to have been numbered among you.

However I am heartily willing and strongly desirous, as far as it may be in my Power, to promote the Design, and support the Credit, Reputation and usefulness, of the Society.

And, in order to show my Good-will and Respect ^to the Body, I have hastily collected the Methods and Rules, that have been proposed to be observed and followed by two foreign Academies; and have added a Proposal or two of my own.

And, if the Academy, over which I trust you will worthily preside, should think it worth the while to ask me to employ my Thoughts or use my Pen, on any Subjects that may be subservient towards a Furtherance of the Arts and Sciences; I shall endeavour, as old as I am, by the Divine Will and Assistance to comply with the Requisition from them.

One of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, it was I think Mr. Fontenelle, called the Same Une Corpse des Esprits, A Body of Spirits, or Geniuses: I wish from my Heart, that our Academy may prove and continue to be, such a Body, to their own Honour and the Enlightening and Rejoicing of Others.

I wish you, Honoured Sir, and all the Brethren of our Academy, the Presence and Blessing of Heaven in all your Projections and Endeavours to promote useful Sciences, as well as at the same Time Religion and Virtue; and am, with great Respect,

Your most humble and obedient Servant

Samuel Mather.

P. S. I found your Honours [sic] Name among the first Members of the French Academy: But he spelt it Baudoin: Which seems to be the right way of Spelling it. He was a learned [Man].

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Vol. 01, p. 8

Ezra Stiles to James Bowdoin, 1780 November 22

Yale College Nov. 22. 1780.


This waits upon you by Mr Goodrich to ask a Copy of the Charter or Act of Assembly incorporating the Massachusetts Academy of Arts & Sciences; an Institution, which I doubt not will be of great usefulness, & do great Honor to our Country and to the whole Republic of Letters. It has been sometime in contemplation to establish such a Society [in] this State. Could we have seen your Charter, I believe, [we] might have obtained one from the Assembly in [their?] Session last month. We could wish to have a draught prepared for their Session in December.

Mr Mr Gannets [sic] Request I have obtained for him Dr Eliots [sic] Tract on Sand Iron. Having but a moments [sic] notice of Dr Goodrichs [sic] Departure, I cannot write to Mr Gannet. It was procured of the Revd. Jno. Devotion of Saybrook by Dr Benja. Gale of Killingworth _ both which Gentlemen are of a philosophical Disposition. May I take Leave to recommend them for an Enrollment into your Acady of Sciences? If you should favor me with the Charter by this opporty you would greatly oblige


Your most obed. very hum. Serv

Ezra Stiles Revd.

Hon. James Bowdoin Esq.

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The Hon. James Bowdoin Esq
President of the Mass. Acady of Sciences

Favored by Dr. Goodrich }


President Stile to Hon. James Bowdoin Esqr. Novr. 22: 1780

Sand Iron

Read. Jany. 31. 1781


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Vol. 01, p. 11

Richard Price to [Joseph Willard], 1781 July 21

London July 21st 1781

Dear Sir/ Duplicate

[in pencil] [?] Jenks.
From Dr Willard Esq

I think myself much honoured by the favour of your letter dated the 28th of Feby last which I received about a month ago. I am made very happy by the information it contains that, in the midst of war and the most important struggle that a people were ever engaged in, a new Academy for promoting arts and Sciences has been established at Boston. In compliance with your desire, I have communicated the incorporating Act and list of members to the President and Secretaries of the Royal Society, attended with a letter of my own stating the contents of your letter to me, and the hopes wch: the American Academy entertain that the Royal Society, governed by the neutrality of Philosophy, will favour it with its encouragem:t. I do not yet know what notice will be taken of these communications. The reply that has been reported to me from the President is that it has not been customary to lay before the

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Royal Society notices of the institution of any Society whatever.

I am obliged to be cautious in communicating the inaugural oration of your honourable and worthy President on account of some political passages in it. For my own part, I not only approve but admire these passages; and I request the favour of you to deliver my best respects to the author. I have deliver’d your letters to Dr Morell and Mr Maskelyne. I have likewise got a friend to communicate to the Society of Arts and commerce the copy of the incorporating Act which you intended for them.

I am at present busy in preparing for the press a 4th Edition of my Treatise on Life-annuities and Reversionary paymts. I shall enlarge it to two Volumes; and when out of the press (wch I am afraid will not be till the beginning of next Summer) I shall endeavour to get it convey’d to you in hopes of the honour of its being accepted as a testimony of my respect for the American Academy. This work having been of some use I am anxious about making it as complete as I can. With this view I am collecting all the observations I can get on population, the increase of mankind and the duration of human life in different Situations.

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All that can be worth communicating to you in the Philosophical and Astronomical way is published in the numbers of the Philosophical Transactions wch come out every half year. What has lately most engaged attention is the new Star discover’d near [underline] Auriga [end underline] by Mr Herschel a gentleman at Bath who has for some time been very curious and diligent in watching the heavens. This Star was at first taken for a comet; and the Astronomer Royal once expected that it would have passed over the disk of the Sun at the beginning of last month; but he has since told me that it is doubted whether it may not be a planet never before discover’d moving at a much greater distance from the Sun than Saturn.-- It has been for some time hid by the Sun’s rays. Should it appear again, Something more certain will probably be determined concerning it.

Dr Priestley never went farther in his History of Philosophy than Electricity and Optics. He has been for some years wholly employ’d in making experimts on the different sorts of air. In this branch of Philosophy he has made several very important discoveries an account of which he has given in five Octavo volumes, the last publish’d within this month. One of the most important facts wch he has discover’d is the effect of [strike out] light [end strike out] vegetation, aided by the action ^not of [underline] heat [end underline] but of [underline] light [end underline], in purifying

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preserving and restoring common air constantly injured and diminished by the breathing of animals, the burning of fires, putrefaction, and other causes. In the day time, and particularly in Sun shine, the purest kind of air is emitted by the leaves of trees and all vegetables; and this emission is more or less copious in proportion to the vigour of the vegetation and the force of the Sun’s light. In the night and in the dark it entirely ceases__ Dr Priestley is going on with these experiments, and very probably another volume will be published in a little time.

If you think that my best respects and wishes will be acceptable to the members of your Academy, I beg you would deliver them. No one can observe with a more earnest attention than I do all that is now passing in America. With much gratitude and the greatest regard I am, Sr, your most obedient and humble Servt,

Rich:d Price

Deliver my very respectful remembrances to the venerable Dr Chauncy. Dr Winthrop [underline] was [end underline] my correspondent. With pain, I think, that he is no more in this world to promote virtue and Science. [sentence struck out - illegible] But we are all following him. God grant that we may leave the world wiser and better for us. (liberty) (and)

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