The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I thank you for the extract of the letter you were so kind as to communicate to me, on the antiquities found in the western country. I wish that the persons who go thither would make very exact descriptions of what they see of that kind, without forming any theories. The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees, in every object, only the traits which favor that theory. But it is too early to form theories on those antiquities. We must wait with patience till more facts are collected. I wish your Philosophical Society would collect exact descriptions of the several monuments as yet known, and insert them naked in their Transactions, and continue their attention to those hereafter to be discovered. Patience and observation may enable us in time, to solve the problem, whether those who formed the scattering monuments in our western country, were colonies sent off from Mexico, or the founders of Mexico itself? Whether both were the descendants or the progenitors of the Asiatic red men?

to Charles Thomson, 20 September 1787