Author: Peter Stephen DuPonceau

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Letter (with Enclosure) from Peter S. DuPonceau to Thomas Jefferson (July 13, 1820)

In this letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated July 13, 1820, the French linguist Peter S. DuPonceau encloses a comparative vocabulary of the Nottoway and Iroquois languages. Jefferson had previously sent DuPonceau a Nottoway word list compiled by John Wood, a mathematics professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, who visited a Nottoway community in Southampton County on March 4, 1820. Until hearing from DuPonceau, Jefferson had believed the Nottoway language to be in the same family as the Powhatan language, which is now known to be Algonquian.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Letter from Peter S. DuPonceau to Thomas Jefferson (July 12, 1820)

In this letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated July 12, 1820, the French linguist Peter S. DuPonceau explains that a Nottoway word list sent to him by the former United States president suggests that the Virginia Indian language is a dialect of Iroquois and not, as Jefferson believed, Algonquian. The word list was originally compiled by John Wood, a mathematics professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, who visited a Nottoway community in Southampton County on March 4, 1820. Some spelling has been modernized.

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