Th: Jefferson presents his acknolegements to mr Perrein for the offer of his collection in Natural history [plant or animal specimens for observation]; but his pursuits in life having never permitted him to think for a moment of forming a museum himself, he cannot avail himself of mr Perrein’s proposition. on the contrary, whatever he recieves worth preservation he is in the habit of giving either to the Philosophical society or to mr Peale.
Thomas Jefferson to Jean Perrein, March 8, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A wise leader can love something without taking it on.
Perrein knew Thomas Jefferson’s passion for natural history and offered his collection to establish a museum. The President declined, not out of lack of interest but knowing other responsibilities precluded his ever “forming a museum.”
Jefferson suggested two destinations for Perrein’s collection, both in Philadelphia. One recipient was the American Philosophical Society, the nation’s premier science organization. The other was Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), founder of America’s foremost museum.
Of Lewis and Clark’s 300 plant and animal specimens delivered the following year, Jefferson kept a few for display at Monticello. The rest went to the Society or Peale’s museum. The Society still holds a major portion of Lewis and Clark’s original journals from their epic 1804-1806 adventure.