A Young Man from 'ultima Thule' Visits Jefferson: Alexander von Humboldt in Philadelphia and Washington

Jefferson's reputation among contemporaries for his lifelong and far-reaching pursuit of scientific, technical, and architectural interests was not restricted to the United States. Von Humboldt was a great admirer of Jefferson, the American Republic, and its advocacy of human rights, freedom, and democracy.  His own interests in these subjects, along with his extensive travels in South America, led him to seek out a meeting with the American president.  In June 1804, Jefferson hosted a lively dinner at the President's House for von Humboldt, his travel companions, and a number of new acquaintances from Philadelphia, where guests had a lively discussion of natural history, the improvements of daily life, and the customs of different nations.

Gerhard Casper is president emeritus of Stanford University. He is the Peter and Helen Bing Professor in Undergraduate Education at Stanford; a professor of law; a professor of political science, by courtesy; and a senior fellow at FSI. He has written and taught primarily in the fields of constitutional law, constitutional history, comparative law, and jurisprudence. From 1977 to 1991, he was an editor of The Supreme Court Review.