Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 15 January 1810

To Samuel Kercheval

Monticello Jan. 15. 10


Your favor of Dec. 12. has been duly recieved as was also that of Sep. 28.  with the blank subscription paper for the academy of Frederic county, inclosed in your letter of Sep. nothing has been done. I go rarely from home, & therefore have little opportunity of solliciting subscriptions. nor could I do it in the present case in conformity with my own judgment of what is best for institutions of this kind. we are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to the support of charitable & other useful public institutions. but it is a part of our duty also to apply our contributions in the most effectual way we can to secure their object. the question then is whether this will not be better done by each of us appropriating our whole contributions to the institutions within our own reach, under our own eye, & over which we can exercise some useful controul? or would it be better that each should divide the sum he can spare among all the institutions of his state, or of the United States? reason, & the interest of these institutions themselves certainly decide in favor of the former practice. this question has been forced on me heretofore by the multitude of applications which have come to me from every quarter of the union on behalf of academies, churches, missions, hospitals, charitable establishments Etc. had I parcelled among them all the contributions which I could spare, it would have been for each too feeble a sum to be worthy of being either given or recieved. if each portion of the state, on the contrary will apply it’s aids & it’s attentions exclusively to those nearest around them, all will be better taken care of. their support, their conduct, & the best administration of their funds will be under the inspection & controul of those most convenient to take cognisance of them, & most interested in their prosperity. with these impressions myself, I could not propose to others what my own judgment disapproved as to their duty as well as my own. these considerations appear so conclusive to myself that I trust they will be a sufficient apology for my not having fulfilled your wishes with respect to the paper inclosed. they are therefore submitted to your candour, with assurances of my best wishes for the success of the institution you patronize, and of my respect & consideration for yourself.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Forbes Magazine Collection, New York City, 2003); at foot of first page: “Mr Saml Kercheval.” PoC (DLC). Enclosure not found.

Kercheval’s favor of dec. 12 from Stephensburg in Frederick County (RC in DLC; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Jan. 1810, but recorded in SJL as received a day earlier) was a brief reminder that TJ had not responded to his 28 Sept. 1809 request for support for the new academy.

Index Entries

  • charity; TJ comments on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; charity at home search
  • Kercheval, Samuel; letters from accounted for search
  • Kercheval, Samuel; letters to search
  • Kercheval, Samuel; solicits donation for school search
  • schools and colleges; Stephensburg Academy (Frederick Co.) search
  • Stephensburg Academy (Frederick Co.); request for donation to search