Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Andrew Alexander, 27 December 1800

From Andrew Alexander

Richmond Decr. 27. 1800


The late Genl. Washington having given to Liberty Hall accademy now Washington accademy, one hundred shares in the James river canal company, which do not as yet yield any income, and the trustees being anxious to bring the seminary into useful operation as soon as possible; did authorise Colo. Moore formerly a member of Congress and now a member of the Senate of this state whome I presume you are personally acquainted with, and my self to procure a loan for the purpose of purchasing some necessary books and philosophical apparatus, and discharging some debts heretofore contracted—

I have been informed that a Mr. Short has some money lent to the James river company a part of which they are now ready to pay, and which is under your direction

I have taken the liberty, though a stranger to enquire if this money or a part of it can be continued on loan to the trustees of Washington accademy, on their pledging the future profits of the shares of the accademy in the company—with the addition of good personal security if required, for the repayment of any sum borrowed—

If you think proper to lend on these terms—be so good as to inform me by a line and for what time the money can be lent—and devise a way in which the business can be accomplished.

I expect to continue here during the Session of the Assembly, if you should write after it breaks up direct to Lexington Rockbridge.

It may be unnecessary to inform you that the trustees have by their exertions built a stone house three stories high with four rooms and a passage in each story and a fireplace in each room, and a stone house sufficiently commodious for a Stewards family and the Students to dine in; which they have nearly paid off by the help of donations and some other funds—

Last summer there were about forty students, and the number will in all probability encreas owing to the healthiness of the situation—

I am Sir with respect your &c

Andrew Alexander

NB. Colo. Moore being indisposed has not as yet attended the Senate


RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson, Esqr Vice President US. Washington”; franked; postmarked at Richmond on 28 Dec.; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Jan. 1801 and so recorded in SJL.

Andrew Alexander of Lexington, Virginia, represented Rockbridge County in the House of Delegates in the General Assembly session of December 1798–January 1799 and in each annual session from that of December 1800–January 1801 to that of 1806–7, when he left the legislature to become the county surveyor. He served again in the House of Delegates, 1818–22. Early in TJ’s presidency Alexander was recommended for the position of U.S. marshal for the western district of Virginia. He was a member of the Belles Lettres Society (later Franklin Society) of Lexington, a literary and scientific discussion group that was probably in existence by 1796. Following a fire at Washington Academy in 1803, Alexander exchanged property with the school and sold it some additional land to give the institution—which later evolved into Washington and Lee University—a new home and what would become its permanent site (Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619-January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 213, 221, 225, 229, 233, 237, 241, 245, 295, 300, 305, 310; Henry Boley, Lexington in Old Virginia [Richmond, 1936], 81; Ollinger Crenshaw, General Lee’s College: The Rise and Growth of Washington and Lee University [New York, 1969], 36–7; TJ to Archibald Stuart, 25 Apr. 1801).

Liberty Hall Academy near Lexington, one of a succession of schools that originated with a classical school begun by Robert Alexander in 1759, received a charter from Virginia in 1782. Fourteen years later, when George Washington chose to donate to some educational purpose 100 shares of stock given to him by the James River Company, the trustees of Liberty Hall made a successful proposal for the grant. In recognition of the endowment, the institution’s name became Washington Academy. Andrew Moore, a member of Congress from 1789 to 1797, a former student of the school, and one of the original trustees when the academy was chartered, played a role in obtaining the endowment of Washington’s canal shares (Oren F. Morton, A History of Rockbridge County Virginia [Staunton, Va., 1920], 188–90, 193, 244; Crenshaw, General Lee’s College, 26–8; Biog. Dir. Cong., 1523; Vol. 8:3–6; Vol. 28:275–8, 306–8).

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