Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 18 November 1818

From Joseph C. Cabell

Enniscorthy. 18 Nov. 1818.

Dear Sir,

I arrived here on 11th inst on my way to Monticello, and on 12th was visited by a most unexpected and mortifying relapse, which, tho in part removed, still hangs lingering about me, has thrown me into a weak & delicate state of body, and threatens to deprive me altogether of the satisfaction & advantage of seeing you before the meeting of the Assembly. I yield the idea of a personal interview with great reluctance. I wished to peruse the Report of the Commissioners, to converse with you fully on the subject of the University, and to state to you my present impressions relative to the proposition you think of making to me in the event of the passage of the Bill. Situated as I am, I seem reduced to the necessity of adopting the more imperfect mode of communicating thro’ a friend. If you could venture to trust the Report out of your hands before it goes into those of Messrs Gordon & Carr, I think we could return it to you safely on saturday or sunday. In regard to the contemplated trip to Europe our friend Col: Coles, who is intimately acquainted with my situation, will be able to give you the same information as I could myself were I present. Probably such objections to me, as he will state, would be considered insurmountable by yourself; and if not by you, by the other Visitors. Suppose them, however, removed, the proposition is one of great importance, and I request a reasonable time to consider of it. It is my intention in every event to retire from the Senate at the close of the approaching session. The current of my inclination strongly inclines me to withdraw altogether, and endeavor by greater personal attention to derive a moderate revenue from my estate, and at the same time to cultivate Science & Literature. A part of the District are disposed to bring me forward as a candidate for Congress: conversations have passed amounting, perhaps, to something like a commitment on my side: but nothing having been finally decided on, & this cruel fever shaking my mind & body, and threatening to impair my already frail constitution, it is not improbable I may, in quitting the Senate, give up all pretensions to further popular preferment. The voyage you propose to me, is to my mind truly interesting, and I cannot conceal the gratification I feel at the confidence the proposition discovers. Having said this, I must leave the rest to my friend Coles.

The Senate will doubtless adjourn in a week from the commencement of the session, and the first 15 days will be employed by the House of Delegates in receiving petitions. The Bill for locating the University might be introduced on 16th and decided on in that House by 20th. Should it succeed there, you may count on its success in the Senate. It would be beneficial, if you would write such a bill as you think the occasion will require, and commit it to the care of such person as you deem proper to be entrusted with it: as also, if you would write to Judge Roane, Judge Brooke, & a few select friends, & request them to speak to the active and influential members of the House of Delegates.

I am Dr Sir, faithfully yr friend

Joseph C. Cabell

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); endorsed by TJ as received 19 Nov. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Thomas C. Flournoy, 24 Jan. 1819, on verso; addressed: “Mr Jefferson Monticello Care of Col: Coles.”

William F. gordon and TJ’s nephew Samuel carr represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Delegates at this time (Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 293). During the proposed trip to europe Cabell was to recruit professors for the University of Virginia. The mission was delayed until 1824 and ultimately undertaken by Francis W. Gilmer (Cabell to TJ, 15 Feb. 1819).

Index Entries

  • Brooke, Francis Taliaferro; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and recruitment of University of Virginia faculty search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; health of search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; possible congressional candidate search
  • Carr, Samuel (TJ’s nephew); and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Central College Board of Visitors; members of search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; transmits messages to and from TJ search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; and recruitment of University of Virginia faculty search
  • Gordon, William Fitzhugh; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Bill to Establish a University search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Rockfish Gap Report of the University of Virginia Commissioners search
  • Roane, Spencer; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; and General Assembly search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; Bill to Establish a University search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; commissioners’ report search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; recruitment of faculty from Europe search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search