Thomas Jefferson, Congress, and Gifts?

Seth Barrett Tillman's picture

Query: Lewis & Clark brought back several gifts from Indian tribes. Some of these gifts entered Thomas Jefferson's collection at Monticello, and TJ describes these gifts in his own writings as diplomatic gifts. Of course, TJ received/accepted them while he was President.

TJ also received a diplomatic (through the American consul in Russia: Levett Harris) from Emperor (Tsar) Alexander I. It was a bust of Alexander I. TJ also received and accepted this gift while President. 

I would like to know if anyone knows of any record indicating that TJ asked for congressional consent to keep any of these gifts OR if he received congressional consent to keep any of these gifts. I looked for a statute or resolution to this effect in the table of contents of Statutes at Large, but I saw nothing. 

My query is for use in a future academic article, but the information might also be useful in an amicus brief in a matter currently before the courts.

Thank you,


Categories: Research

Dear Seth,
Have you tried contacting the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello? The staff there should be able to point you in the right direction. There is a contact method available at this address:
All the best,
Cara Rogers


Have you contacted the Jefferson Papers?

Jenn Steenshorne [

Ed. note (PBK): Perhaps by way of reply Seth can enumerate the sources he has consulted on this question so that we can save time, and, hopefully, develop effective leads.]