George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Coram, 5 March 1791

From Robert Coram

Wilmington [Del.] March 5. 1791


I take the liberty herewith to request your acceptance of a Small Pamphlet which I have wrote on the Subject of Education I wrote it chiefly with a design of being useful to my country, which I hope will in some measure apologize for the errors you may find in it. I have the honor to be &c. your Excellencys most obedt humble Servant

Robert Coram


Robert Coram (1761–1796) was born in England and brought to South Carolina as an infant. He served in the South Carolina navy during the Revolution and served under John Paul Jones on board the Bonhomme Richard in its engagement with the Serapis. He was captured by the British in 1782. After his release he settled in Wilmington, Del., where he kept school and served as the librarian of the Wilmington Library Company. He was later elected to the state constitutional convention of 1792 and served briefly as editor of the Delaware Gazette. The enclosed pamphlet was Coram’s Political Inguiries: To Which Is Added, a Plan for the General Establishment of Schools throughout the United States (Wilmington, 1791). This pamphlet proposed a republican system of education based on principles of equality, aimed at leveling invidious social distinctions and fostering a society in which property would be more equally distributed. Coram sent a copy of the pamphlet to Thomas Jefferson on the same day (Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 19:409–10). It is reprinted in Charles S. Hyneman and Donald S. Lutz, eds., American Political Writing during the Founding Era, 1760–1805 (2 vols., Indianapolis, 1983), 2:756–811.

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