International Communications: 1700s Style

Nicholas Kosar Culture, Language

One way I keep up with historical and cultural interests is through my association with the Associates of Colonel Philip Ludwell III, a historical non-profit association focusing on interesting personalities of the 18th-century in the Colony of Virginia.

In an age when we can Facebook message each other from the United States to Siberia (something I’ll occasionally do with cousins), I think we tend to think that communications 250+ years ago were quite limited. Indeed they were – once people moved from, say, Virginia to Kentucky, it was not uncommon for family and friends to lose contact with one another. These days we have incredible communication technologies, but people still get separated. And yet, if you had the means and desire, you could communicate across oceans back in those days.

So it was with pleasure that I recently wrote a blog post about Thomas Jefferson’s friendship and correspondence with a fascinating gentleman named John Paradise. While Jefferson was the nascent United States’ minister to France in the 1780s, he struck up a friendship with the London-based Paradise, who was born in Greece, raised partly in Italy, spoke about half a dozen languages, and was a member of the Royal Society. Paradise was also the first naturalized U.S. citizen, and was a friendly tutor to Jefferson in the Greek language. For more on this subject, visit: