Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 31 October 1809

To Louis H. Girardin

Monticello Oct. 31. 09.

Sir

The bearer hereof, T. Jefferson Randolph, my grandson, proceeds to Richmond with a view to enter as a student in the academy at that place under your care. having been taught Latin & French (the former however not as perfectly as should be) he passed a year at Philadelphia, attending courses of lectures in Botany, Natural history, Anatomy & Surgery. our object in sending him to your academy is that he may go through a compleat course of Mathematics & Natural philosophy. in the former I comprehend Geometry, trigonometry plain & spherical, Conic sections & Algebra, not meaning however to push the latter to fluxions, which are little useful in ordinary life, [as?]1 may be said also indeed of the higher branches of Algebra generally. in the hope that he can be recieved, I recommend him to the attentions of yourself & the other professors, with the assurance that you will find his dispositions entirely amiable, and his capacity equal to the objects proposed: to which I may add that his conduct hitherto has been so correct as to strengthen our confidence that it will not be changed in his new situation. Messrs Gibson & Jefferson will make the advances necessary in the first instance, & will be enabled to meet others as they occur. the interest I feel in whatever concerns him will render me extremely thankful for every degree of attention to him consistent with your duties to others, and I pray you to be assured of my high respect & consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Letters); addressed: “Mr L. H. Girardin Richmond by T. J. Randolph.”

Louis Hue Girardin (1771–1825), educator, journalist, and historian, was a royalist born in Normandy who changed his name from Louis François Picot and fled to America to avoid his enemies during the French Revolution. Starting in 1803 Girardin taught modern languages, history, and geography at the College of William and Mary, and while in Williamsburg he published the short-lived, pioneering illustrated magazine Amœnitatis Graphicæ (1805). With partners and on his own he ran an academy in Richmond, 1807–10, and he later operated similar academies in Milton and Staunton before serving as head of the struggling Baltimore College from 1821 until his death. Girardin briefly edited two Richmond newspapers, the Daily Compiler, 1815–16, and the Virginia Argus in the latter year. He corresponded regularly with TJ, especially during the latter’s retirement. Between 1813 and its publication in Petersburg in 1816, Girardin worked to complete the fourth volume of a History of Virginia (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 464; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 4 [no. 127]) begun by John Daly Burk and Skelton Jones. TJ carefully advised Girardin on this project, seeing this concluding volume, dedicated to TJ and dealing with the American Revolution, as a means of defending his actions as governor of Virginia against criticisms in John Marshall’s Life of Washington (Philadelphia, 1804–07; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 496; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library [1829] description ends , 4 [no. 133]) and Henry Lee’s Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department (Philadelphia, 1812; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 533) (Norfleet, Saint-Mémin description begins Fillmore Norfleet, Saint-Mémin in Virginia: Portraits and Biographies, 1942 description ends , 166–7; Edith Philips, Louis Hue Girardin and Nicholas Gouin Dufief and Their Relations with Thomas Jefferson: An Unknown Episode of the French Emigration in America [1926]; Wayne Barrett, “Monsieur Girardin’s Prescient Little Magazine,” Colonial Williamsburg 14 [Winter 1991/92]: 24–8; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 2:1137, 1142–3; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 4:256–68; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:218–24; Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Advertiser, 17 Feb. 1825).

1Word, obscured by ink stain, interlined in place of “which.”

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; historiography of search
  • Burk, John Daly; The History of Virginia search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and education of T. J. Randolph search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and J. D. Burk’s History of Virginia search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; identified search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; letters to search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; Richmond academy search
  • historiography; of American Revolution search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; on T. J. Randolph search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; mathematical study search
  • Jones, Skelton; and J. D. Burk’s History of Virginia search
  • Marshall, John; Life of George Washington search
  • mathematics; TJ on search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); education of search
  • Richmond, Va.; L. H. Girardin’s academy at search
  • schools and colleges; L. H. Girardin’s academy (Richmond) search
  • The History of Virginia (J. D. Burk, S. Jones, and L. H. Girardin); TJ’s role in the preparation of search
  • William and Mary, College of; faculty of search