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Link: • Pehr Kalm to Carl Linnaeus, 25 October 1748 n.s.
Dated 14. Octob. 1748. Sent from Philadelphia (USA) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


This is Pehr Kalm’sKalm, Pehr (1716-1779).
Swedish. Botanist and traveller,
professor of natural history at
Åbo. Disciple of Linnaeus.
Travelled in North America 1748-1751.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
first letter from America, and he can understand that Linnaeus is waiting impatiently for a report. Kalm wrote to Linnaeus from London in the beginning of June [Kalm to Linnaeus, 14 June 1748Letter L0923] and told him that he had not been able to go with Captain MesnardMesnard, . Sea-captain. in May because he had no pass. The second possible departure was to take place on June 5 but, because of the protracted peace negotiations, it was delayed till July 24. It was a frustrating time for Kalm and for Lars JungströmJungström, Lars Swedish.
Gardener. Accompanied Pehr Kalm as his
assitant on Kalm´s voyage to North
America. After his retun to Sweden in
1751 he was appointed a gardener at the
castle of Ekolsund, planting American
, who could not use the time very well as the captain dissuaded him from leaving London, which is also a very expensive place to stay in. However, the stay was not completely idle; he made quite a few valuable observations. The voyage was very smooth and agreeable, Kalm says he has travelled several times with the mail-boat from Grisslehamn at Roslagen [at the Swedish east-coust] to Ekerö at Åland with more heavy motions of the sea than that, and the trip could have been made in a dinghy. Captain LawsonLawson, British. Sea-captain.
was extremely nice and pleasant. When he noticed Kalm’s interest in plants and animals, he helped him in all possible ways. He procured many various species of seaweed for him. The crew caught fish at sea and let Kalm dissect them to study their entrails and the food they had eaten. He preserved this in spirits and dried the seaweed. Every day he recorded the temperature of air and water. Fulmars, described by Linnaeus in the transactions of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences [Kungliga Svenska VetenskapsakademienKungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien,
Swedish. The Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. Founded
in 1739.
] [Kalm refers to, “Storm-väders-fogelen, beskrifven af Carl Linnaeus”Linnaeus, Carl
“Storm-väders-fogelen, beskrifven
af Carl Linnaeus”, KVAH (1745),
] and in Fauna SvecicaLinnaeus, Carl Fauna Svecica
sistens animalia Sveciae regni:
quadrupedia, aves, amphibia, pisces,
insecta, vermes, distributa per classes
& ordines, genera & species. Cum
differentiis specierum, synonymis
autorum, nominibus incolarum, locis
habitationum, descriptionibus
(Stockholm, 1746).
Soulsby no. 1151.
often followed the ship, sometimes in thousands, without presaging storms. On September 2 they saw America for the first time, and two days later they arrived in Philadelphia. Here Kalm was informed of what had happened to Captain Mesnard’s ship. He had arrived only two weeks earlier after a terrible crossing: extremely slow progress because of calms, insufferable heat causing disease and a heavy death toll, starvation: all their food supplies were long since exhausted. Kalm is grateful now for the delay in London and understands that it was part of the God’s plans for him. Finally Kalm can start exploring this new continent. The first grass he meets is a new species of Cynosurus. He is surprised to find many Swedish plants but most of them are new to him. Most trees are also new. Even if you do see beech, hazel, cherry, and hornbeam, they still seem somewhat different from their Swedish relatives. At first the overwhelming number of new plants embarrassed him, and he did not know where to begin. Now he has started describing plants, which is a strange experience: in Sweden it was sensational if he could find one new species, here in New Sweden he can easily find 100 new ones every single day. Kalm has been advised to spend the winter here and to put off his trip to New England and Canada until next year. Winter comes early up there, so there would be little time for exploration this year. Another reason to postpone the trip to Canada was rumours saying that Indian tribes had killed, robbed and abducted French people. Therefore, it is better to concentrate on New Sweden, New Jersey, and New York. His plan for the winter is to go to Maryland and Virginia; at the end of February he will go to New England, and in the beginning of summer to Canada, but without Jungström. In September he will be back in New England. From there, or from Philadelphia, he will return to Sweden with his collection. Kalm will also bring back valuable observations. If someone objects about the meaning with all this observations and their expenditure, Kalm means that if someone is sent out somewhere just to report about curiosities, he can understand these objections. He himself, however, will do all these observations for the benefit to his own country. Winters are as hard in America as in Sweden. Therefore, the American trees should thrive in Sweden, too. It would be wonderful to introduce into our country trees such as: sassafras, marvellous in medicine; two species of chestnut with delicate fruits, superior to European ones, and excellent wood for carpentry; vines; maples having a rich sap yielding first-class sugar; many species of mulberry trees, perfect for sericulture. There are at least ten species of oaks, but they are inferior in quality compared with the European species. The woods are rich in edible and medicinal herbs and roots, e.g. Radix Ninsi and Polygala. Kalm has studied Gramina but has not found one that is superior to European grasses. Poa, with a reference to Flora SvecicaLinnaeus, Carl Flora Svecica,
exhibens plantas per regnum Sveciae
crescentes, systematice cum differentiis
specierum, synonymis autorum, nominibus,
incolarum, solo locorum, usu
(Leiden 1745).
Soulsby no. 408.
is the only grass that seems to exist in Europe. John BartramBartram, John (1701-1777).
American. Botanist living in
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Father of
John Bartram the Younger and William
Bartram. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has told Kalm that the grasses tend to be more ”select” the furher north you come. Kalm observes that wide areas of the American continent have once been sea bottom, something that is wellknown for the Indians living in this area. Even 1000 km from the coast you find mussels and shells deep in the earth. In New England they find petrified strata of shells up in the mountains, but of a kind that you now only find down in Carolina. Linnaeus, and several of the members of the Royal Society of LondonRoyal Society, London,
British. The Royal Society was founded
in Oxford in 1645 and sanctioned as a
royal society in 1662.
, have asked Kalm to inquire into why American plants flower so late that, in Europe, their seeds seldom mature before winter. Kalm points at the climatic differences. In America summers are terribly hot. September and October are the best months, corresponding to July and August in Sweden. Then most American plants flower and mature, e.g. Aster, Solidago, Rudbeckia, Lobelia, Pedicularis, Digitalis, Oenothera, Helianthus, Gentiana, Eupatorium. Kalm does not answer Linnaeus’s question but asks back, ”Why do Hepatica, Draba and many violets flower in spring, and why do Centaurea and Gentiana flower late in autumn?" Bartram has told Kalm that sometimes winter comes early before the seeds are mature, but they survive thanks to their perennial roots. On September 25 the temperature was zero in the morning, and on October 25 one degree below zero, and there was ice on the water. A southerly wind here gives nice summer weather even in autumn, wheras a north-west wind from Hudson Bay means bitter cold.

Johan SandinSandin, Johan (?-1748).
Swedish. Clergyman in New Jersey.
Husband of Anna Margareta Sandin in her
first marriage.
, Kalm’s good friend in Uppsala, went to America and settled down only 40 km from where Kalm now lives. He died only five months after his arrival. When Kalm heard of his illness, he hastened there, but it was too late. Sandin left a widow [Anna Margareta SandinSandin, Anna Margareta
(1722-1787). Swedish. Wife of Johan
Sandin, then of Pehr Kalm.
] and an infant child, only three months old. The poor woman needs immediate help. She and her late husband spent all their money on the trip to America, where they had to spend eighteen weeks at the sea, compared to Kalm who only had to spend five weeks for the same trip. Had she been in Sweden, she would have had her husband’s stipend for a year. As it was the Archbishop [Henric BenzeliusBenzelius, Henric (1689-1758).
Swedish. Archbishop 1747-1758.
] and the Consistorium of Uppsala University [Uppsala Universitets konsistoriumUppsala Universitets konsistorium,
Swedish. The Consistorium [Board]
of Uppsala University.
who sent Sandin to America, the same rule should apply for his wife. Kalm encloses a supplication from her to the Consistorium of Uppsala. As Linnaeus was very fond of Sandin, Kalm hopes that he will use all his influence to alleviate the poor widow’s desperate situation. The whole thing is very sad. Sandin was very happy when he heard of Kalm’s arrival in America. He had collected rare botanical samples, such as sassafras, benzoin, and rattlesnake root, and instructed Cadwallader ColdenColden, Cadwallader
(1688-1776). American. Physician of
Scottish origin, botanist, physicist,
politician. Lieutenant governor of New
York. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
to send seeds and dried plants to Linnaeus. A letter from Colden to Sandin will prove this. Kalm will show Linnaeus the letter when he has safely returned home [to Sweden]. Kalm will now bribe Linnaeus to do his utmost for the widow by sending to Academy of Sciences a chest full of rare seeds, many of them unknown in Europe.

Bartram lives near Philadelphia and is a dedicated Linnaean. He has promised to send rare seeds to Linnaeus. Colden, who is a councillor in New York, has written to Kalm and wants to see him. Enclosed with this letter is the supplication for Sandin’s wife. Kalm has collected and dried a lot of plants, even insects, and some other rare objects Kalm wants Linnaeus to copy the first part of this letter and send it to Pehr ElviusElvius, Pehr (1710-1749).
Swedish. Engineer and mathematician,
secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy
of Sciences.
, and Sten Carl BielkeBielke, Sten Carl (1709-1753).
Swedish. Baron, government official,
patron of science, and naturalist. One
of the founders of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences. Private pupil of
Linnaeus. Close friend of Pehr Kalm,
whose voyage to America he supported
financially. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. Kalm also wants Linnaeus to read through thoroughly the letter to Elvius, he wouldn’t mind if the same letter was published in Lars Salvius’sSalvius, Lars (1706-1773).
Swedish. Printer, bookseller, publisher.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
Lärda Tidningar Lärda tidningar
(1745-1773). Ed. Lars Salvius.
, as it do not deserve its publication in the transactions of the Academy of sciences. If Linnaeus finds somethign therein which he would like to correct, he is free to do so, and the same goes for all his letters to Linnaeus. Kalm sends his regards to Linnaeus’s wife [Sara Elisabet MoraeaMoraea, Sara Elisabet
(1716-1806). Swedish. Linnaeus’s wife.
Daughter of Johan Moraeus and Elisabet
Hansdotter Moraea. Mother of Carl
Linnaeus the Younger and of Elisabeth
Christina, Louisa, Sara Christina and
Sophia Linnaea.
], Olof CelsiusCelsius, Olof (1670-1756).
Swedish. Orientalist and theologian,
professor at Uppsala. Botanist and plant
collector, benefactor of Linnaeus.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Engelbert HaleniusHalenius, Engelbert
(1700-1767). Swedish. Bishop of Skara,
politician. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Gabriel MathesiusMathesius, Gabriel (1705-1772).
Swedish. Professor of theology,
, Daniel SolanderSolander, Daniel (1707-1786).
Swedish. Professor of Law, Uppsala.
Married to Anna Margareta Solander.
Brother of Carl Solander and uncle to
Daniel Solander. Correspondent of
, Nils Rosén von RosensteinRosén von Rosenstein, Nils
(1706-1773). Swedish. Physician
and professor of medicine. Colleague of
Linnaeus at Uppsala. The founder of
modern pediatrics. Correspondent of
, Samuel KlingenstjernaKlingenstierna, Samuel
(1698-1765). Swedish. Physicist and
mathematician, professor of experimental
physics at Uppsala. Correspondent of
, Martin StrömerStrömer, Martin
(1707-1770). Swedish. Astronomer,
professor in Uppsala from 1745.
, Olof CelsiusCelsius, Olof (1716-1794).
Swedish. Bishop, historian, politician.
, Johan IhreIhre, Johan (1707-1780).
Swedish. Philologist. Professor of Latin
and later of eloquence and political
science at Uppsala.
, Johan AmnellAmnell, Johan Johannis
(1718-1789). Swedish. Professor of
greek 1747 and theology 1761, Uppsala.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Olof Petrus HiorterHiorter, Olof Petrus
(1696-1750). Swedish. Professor of
astronomy at Uppsala 1732-1737.
, Petrus AlmAlm, Petrus (1711-1769).
Swedish. Headmaster at a school in
Uppsala, Vicar of Tuna and Stafby.
Brother of Erik Alm.
and Erik AlmAlm, Erik (1713-1765).
Swedish. Clergyman. Household chaplan at
Bielke´s mother, Ursula Kristina
Bielke, born Törne. Thereafter
vicar of Skepptuna. Brother of Petrus
, and he asks of Linnaeus not to forget Diedrich NietzelNietzel, Diedrich (1703-1756).
German. George Clifford’s gardener at
Hartecamp. Became university gardener at
Uppsala, where he died. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
. Linnaeus can address letters to Kalm to Abraham SpaldingSpalding, Abraham (1712-1782).
Swedish. Merchant, London, in
partnership with Gustaf Brander.
, in London who will forward them to Kalm, but in that case Spalding must have them before the end of May next year, because the letters, which will arrive to London after that Kalm has ordered should not be forwarded. Kalm has made a lot of observations since he arrived, if he will stay healthy and everything goes well, he hopes that Linnaeus will not be ashamed of his disciple. Kalm is content with his chair in Åbo but, considering what is best for Linnaeus and botany, maybe Lund would be preferable. If that is Linnaeus’s opinion, Kalm wants the decision to be made before he returns to Sweden. Once in Åbo, he will remain there; he wishes God to beware him from a profession within medicine! If, on the other hand, Anders BerchBerch, Anders (1711-1774).
Swedish. Professor of economics,
was transferred to some better position, Kalm would not dislike to succeed him.


a. contemporary copy (KVA, Bergius, XIV, 123-148).


1. "Utdrag ur Herr Professor Kalms bref" (1749), p. 70-75 .
2. Svenska arbeten (1878), vol. 1, p. 197-201   p.197  p.198  p.199  p.200  p.201.
3. Bref och skrifvelser (1922), vol. I:8, p. 33-43   p.33  p.34  p.35  p.36  p.37  p.38  p.39  p.40  p.41  p.42  p.43.