University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

expand sectionA. 
expand sectionB. 
expand sectionC. 
expand sectionD. 
expand sectionE. 
expand sectionF. 
expand sectionG. 
expand sectionH. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionJ. 
expand sectionK. 
collapse sectionL. 
4559. LEDYARD (John), Explorer.—
expand sectionM. 
expand sectionN. 
expand sectionO. 
expand sectionP. 
expand sectionQ. 
expand sectionR. 
expand sectionS. 
expand sectionT. 
expand sectionU. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionW. 
expand sectionX. 
expand sectionY. 
expand sectionZ. 

expand section 
expand section 

4559. LEDYARD (John), Explorer.—

1786, while at Paris, I became acquainted with
John Ledyard, of Connecticut, a man of genius,
of some science, and of fearless courage and
enterprise. He had accompanied Captain Cook
in his voyage to the Pacific, had distinguished
himself on several occasions by an unrivalled
intrepidity, and published an account of that
voyage, with details unfavorable to Cook's deportment
towards the savages, and lessening our
regrets at his fate. Ledyard had come to Paris
in the hope of forming a company to engage
in the fur trade of the Western coast of America.
He was disappointed in this, and, being
out of business, and of a roaming, restless character,
I suggested to him the enterprise of
exploring the western part of our continent,
by passing through St. Petersburg to Kamschatka,
and procuring a passage thence in some
of the Russian vessels to Nootka Sound, whence
he might make his way across the continent to
the United States; and I undertook to have the
permission of the Empress of Russia solicited.
He eagerly embraced the proposition, and M. de
Sémoulin, the Russian Ambassador, and more
particularly Baron Grimm, the special correspondent
of the Empress, solicited her permission
for him to pass through her dominions, to
the western coast of America. And here I
must correct a material error which I have
committed in another place, to the prejudice
of the Empress. In writing some notes of the
life of Captain Lewis, prefixed to his “ Expedition
to the Pacific”, I stated that the Empress
gave the permission asked, and afterwards retracted
it. This idea, after a lapse of twenty-six
years, had so insinuated itself into my
mind, that I committed it to paper, without the
least suspicion of error. Yet I find, on recurring
to my letters of that date, that the Empress
refused permission at once, considering
the enterprise as entirely chimerical. But
Ledyard would not relinquish it, persuading
himself that, by proceeding to St. Petersburg,
he could satisfy the Empress of its practicability,
and obtain her permission. He went accordingly,
but she was absent on a visit to some
distant part of her dominions [the Crimea], and
he pursued his course to within two hundred
miles of Kamschatka, where he was overtaken
by an arrest from the Empress, brought back to
Poland, and there dismissed. I must therefore,
in justice, acquit the Empress of ever having
for a moment countenanced, even by the indulgence
of an innocent passage through her
territories, this interesting enterprise.—
Autobiography. Washington ed. i, 68. Ford ed., i, 94.