This letter courtesy of Yale University
Letters of Thomas Jefferson
_To Philip Nolan_
_Philadelphia, June 24, 1798_
SIR, -- It is sometime since I have understood that there are large herds of horses in a wild state, in the country west of the Mississippi, and have been desirous of obtaining details of their history in that State. Mr. Brown, Senator from Kentucky, informs me it would be in your power to give interesting information on this subject, and encourages me to ask it. The circumstances of the old world have, beyond the records of history, been such as admitted not that animal to exist in a state of nature. The condition of America is rapidly advancing to the same. The present then is probably the only moment in the age of the world, and the herds above mentioned the only subjects, of which we can avail ourselves to obtain what has never yet been recorded, and never can be again in all probability. I will add that your information is the sole reliance, as far as I can at present see, for obtaining this desideratum. You will render to natural history a very acceptable service, therefore, if you will enable our Philosophical society to add so interesting a chapter to the history of this animal. I need not specify to you the particular facts asked for; as your knowledge of the animal in his domesticated, as well as his wild state, will naturally have led your attention to those particulars in the manners, habits, and laws of his existence, which are peculiar to his wild state. I wish you not to be anxious about the form of your information, the exactness of the substance alone is material; and if, after giving in a first letter all the facts you at present possess, you would be so good, on subsequent occasions, as to furnish such others in addition, as you may acquire from time to time, your communications will always be thankfully received, if addressed to me at Monticello; and put into any post office in Kentucky or Tennessee, they will reach me speedily and safely, and will be considered as obligations on, sir, your most obedient, humble servant.
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