The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


You promise, in your letter of October the 23d, 1787, to give me in your next, at large, the conjectures of your philosopher on the descent of the Creek Indians from the Carthaginians, supposed to have been separated from Hanno's fleet, during his periplus. I shall be very glad to receive them, and see nothing impossible in his conjecture. I am glad he means to appeal to similarity of language, which I consider as the strongest kind of proof it is possible to adduce. I have somewhere read, that the language of the ancient Carthaginians is still spoken by their descendants, inhabiting the monntainous interior parts of Barbary, to which they were obliged to retire by the conquering Arabs. If so, a vocabulary of their tongue can still be got, and if your friend will get one of the Creek languages, the comparison will decide. He probably may have made progress in this business; but if he wishes any enquiries to be made on this side the Atlantic, I offer him my services cheerfully; my wish being like his, to ascertain the history of the American aborigines.

to Edward Rutledge, 18 July 1788