James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Cooper, 24 November 1817

From Thomas Cooper

Philadelphia 24. Novr. 1817

Dear Sir

On receipt of the inclosed letter1 I wrote to Mr Jefferson saying that I did not wish to go to Williamsburgh—that if I could be so placed as to earn a moderate Income for the next year at Charlottesville I should prefer it: but that I meant to leave Philadelphia, & could not afford to subsist a twelve month on my present funds & unemployed. I wrote to the same purpose requesting an immediate reply about a fortnight ago; stating that if I could earn 1500 Dlrs for the next year at Charlottesville, I wd. reject the 3000 Dlrs at Williamsburgh. I have received no reply, owing to some accident that I cannot account for. In mean time for want of my decisive reply I find Mr Hare2 is elected at Williamsburgh and my option of that Situation is gone. I did not chuse to accept untill I recd. Mr Jefferson’s answer to my letters, but I fear they have miscarried.

Under that impression I write to you. If you have engaged no classical Tutor, I have no objection to act as such untill you can look about you, & replace me by a better. I have not ventured to write to Mr Slack3 formerly in that Capacity at Lynchburgh, untill I had recd. an answer from Mr Jefferson to my letter on the Subject of that Gentleman.

Mr Edwin Madison,4 is learning french, & reading the classics, but he has been much afflicted with sore eyes: he has therefore not made much progress in Law: what he has read, he has read well, & to good purpose. I refused to let him attend any of my scientific lectures: if he attends to law, as he ought he has enough to do. But I consider latin & french as indispensible to him as a Lawyer. I wait your reply. Pray accept my kind wishes and sincere respects,

Thomas Cooper

RC (ViU). Addressed by Cooper to JM at Montpelier and franked. Enclosure not found, but see n. 1.

1The enclosure was probably an offer of employment by the Visitors of the College of William and Mary to Cooper (see JM to Thomas Jefferson, 29 Nov. 1817, and Minutes of the Board of Visitors of the Central College, 7 Oct. 1817, n. 2).

2Robert Hare (1781–1858) was a Philadelphia-born chemist whose research into heat and electricity led to useful inventions that he exploited in business. Briefly employed as professor of chemistry at the College of William and Mary in 1818, he left to take up a similar position at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he retired in 1847.

3This was Gerard E. Stack, who had previously taught languages at Dickinson College in 1816. Cooper recommended “Mr Stack, or Slack” again in the spring of 1818, and Jefferson eventually employed Stack to run the classical grammar school in Charlottesville, Virginia, from 1819 to 1820 (James Henry Morgan, Dickinson College: The History of One Hundred and Fifty Years, 1783–1933 [Carlisle, Penn., 1933], 204; Cooper to Jefferson, 19 Apr. 1818, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society [1900], 7th ser., 1:269, 271–72; Malone, Jefferson and His Time description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (6 vols.; Boston, 1948–81). description ends , 6:371–73, 379).

4James Edwin Madison (1798–1821) was JM’s nephew, the son of William Madison (Charles Thomas Chapman, “Who was Buried in James Madison’s Grave? A Study in Contextual Analysis” [master’s thesis, College of William and Mary, 2005], 255; Richmond Enquirer, 19 Oct. 1821).

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