Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Caruthers to Thomas Jefferson, 25 July 1809

From William Caruthers

Lexington 25th July 1809


The friends of litterature in and1 Near this plaice, encouraged by their Success in establisheing An Accademy for the education of Youth, which now bears the Name of its Liberal patron the friend of Mankind by Whom it was so liberally endowed—have also undertaken to establish an Accademy for education of Young ladies; in Order to which Trustees have incorporated by the legislature and by the liberal and Gratutitous attention of Miss Ann Smith formerly of Baltimore who Taught also in George Town the Scool has been in Operation Near Two Years with from fifty to Sixty pupils, and we flatter ourselves Meets the entire Aprobation of all employers & Visitors—we have also by the aid of Subscriptions already recd embarked in Building and Got up the Walls of a large & Commodious house to finish which Will exceed our funds On hand, and as aid from the Treasury of our state is seldome Obtained we feel Ourselves under the Necessity of Asking farther Donations from individuals—this institution has a Stronger claim than almost any other on the public as there is no Other in Our State on a Simelar plan for the education of young Ladies Or None that promises so fair to be usefull

Being perfectly persuaded of Your disposition to aid as far as You can undertakings of this Kind I now Take the liberty of mentioning to You a Small fund of Yours which has lain so long in my hands I suppose You have forgotten it about $90—Arrising from the sale of Salt petre Got for rent of a little Cave on the N Bridge Tract of land it ought to have been More But Two of the fellows run off and I have never been able to collect from them What they Owed You if You think proper to Appropriate this or any part of it to the use of the Ann Smith Accademy You may Direct me By letter to Do with it as You Wish

With Sentiments of profound Respect I am Your Obt Sevt

Wm Caruthers

RC (DLC); between dateline and salutation: “Honbl Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 21 July 1809 received 2 Aug. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

William Caruthers (d. 1817), a Lexington merchant, was TJ’s agent in Rockbridge County (Rockbridge Co. Will Book, 5:150–4, Vi microfilm; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1262n). He and TJ subsequently corresponded about their mutual interest in sheep breeding and various proposals for leasing the lands around the Natural Bridge, including Caruthers’s own proposal for establishing a shot manufactory there in partnership with Philip Thornton.

George Washington was the liberal patron whose gift of one hundred shares in the James River Company in 1796 led to the renaming in 1798 of Lexington’s Liberty Hall Academy, first incorporated in 1782, as the Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) (Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, 1983– , 44 vols.: Colonial Ser., 6 vols.; Confederation Ser., 10 vols.; Pres. Ser., 11 vols.; Retirement Ser., 4 vols. ; Rev. War Ser., 13 vols. description ends , Retirement Ser., 2:236–7, 3:207–9). Caruthers was a founding trustee of the Ann Smith Academy, established in 1807 to educate young ladies and chartered by the legislature on 7 Jan. 1808 (Samuel Shepherd, The Statutes at Large of Virginia, from October Session 1792 to December Session 1806 [1835–36], 3:403–4). Its headmistress and namesake left the school in 1812, but it survived past the Civil War (William W. Pusey, Elusive Aspirations: The History of the Female Academy in Lexington, Virginia [1983]; Ollinger Crenshaw, General Lee’s College: The Rise and Growth of Washington and Lee University [1969], 72–4). Caruthers had had the small fund from the sale of salt petre at the Natural Bridge in his hands for eight years (Caruthers to TJ, 29 July 1801 [MHi]).

1Manuscript: “and and.”

Index Entries

  • Ann Smith Academy (Lexington) search
  • Caruthers, William; and Ann Smith Academy search
  • Caruthers, William; and Natural Bridge search
  • Caruthers, William; identified search
  • Caruthers, William; letters from search
  • James River Company search
  • Lexington, Va.; Ann Smith Academy search
  • Lexington, Va.; Washington Academy search
  • manufacturing, household; shot towers search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; and shot manufactory search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; proposed sale of TJ’s lands at search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; saltpeter cave near search
  • saltpeter search
  • schools and colleges; Ann Smith Academy (Lexington) search
  • schools and colleges; for women search
  • schools and colleges; Washington Academy (Lexington) search
  • Smith, Ann; academy in Lexington, Va. search
  • Thornton, Philip; and shot manufactory search
  • Washington, George; and donation to Liberty Hall Academy search
  • Washington Academy (later Washington and Lee University) search
  • women; schools for search