From Joseph C. Cabell
Richmond. 24 Jan: 1816.
Since writing the enclosed letter, I have conversed with mr Mercer of the House of Delegates, to whom I had lent your Letter to mr Carr, upon being informed by him that he had it in contemplation to endeavor to get a considerable part of the debt due from us by the Genl Govt to the State of Virginia, appropriated to the establishment of a grand scheme of education. He appears much pleased with your view of the subject, and as he proposes to make a report to the Lower House, concurs with me in the propriety of availing the country of the light you have shed upon this great interest of the community. Would you object to the publication of your Letter to Mr Carr? Indeed, Sir, I may take the liberty to have your Letter printed before I can get your answer. I do not believe the Genl Assembly will make so great an appropriation at this time as the one proposed by mr mercer: but I will do any thing in my power to promote it. And should the measure succeed, my object wd be to make your plan the basis of our measures. The location of the principal Seminary would be a secondary consideration; & it might happen that the people beyond the mountains would not come into the measure unless Staunton or Lexington should be made the principal scite. This would be a disagreeable result to me: but I see a scheme already formed to carry the seat of Govt sooner or later to Staunton, and powerful private interests silently preparing & expecting that event. Should a great State Seminary be established at Charlottesville, it might touch the interests of this party. This suggestion I beg you to consider as confidential. My intention is, as soon as I hear from you to secure the passage of the bill respecting the Central college, nearly or entirely in its present shape. Then or previously I will, if not prevented, publish your Letter to mr Carr, so as to prevent this game from being easily taken out of the hands of those who are entitled to it.
Jos: C: Cabell.
RC (ViU: TJP-PC); endorsed by TJ as received 30 Jan. 1816 and so recorded in SJL; with additional notation by TJ: “College location. lre to P. Carr.” RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Cabell, 28 Feb. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson esq. Monticello”; franked; postmarked Richmond, 24 Jan. Enclosure: Cabell to TJ, 23 Jan. 1816.
TJ’s letter to mr carr was dated 7 Sept. 1814. Loudoun County delegate Charles Fenton Mercer, chairman of the Committee on Finance, presented a report to the lower house on 13 Feb. 1816 in which the panel observed that “Should it be the pleasure of the General Assembly, to lay the foundation of a comprehensive system of public education, ample means for the accomplishment of this laudable purpose, may be found in the residue of the debt due to the Commonwealth from the Government of the United States, and the provision which the Committee have presumed to recommend for gradually extinguishing the debts of the Commonwealth to the Banks of Virginia” (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends [1815–16 sess.], 177).
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