Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 18 January 1819

From Joseph C. Cabell

Richmond. 4 p. m. 18th Jan: 1819

Dear Sir,

Grateful, truly grateful, is it to my heart, to be able to announce to you; the result of this day’s proceedings in the House of Delegates. In Committee of the whole, the question was taken, after an elaborate discussion, on the motion1 to strike the Central College from the Bill. The vote was as follows;—for striking out 69—against it 114—majority agt striking out 45. This is a decisive victory. Immediately after this decision, Mr Baldwin of Augusta, rose & made a most eloquent appeal to the Western Delegation, calling on them, to dismiss local feelings, & to unite with the majority, in the support of the measure. The Bill passed to a 3d reading nem: con. Having left the House before the critical vote on the site, to avoid the shock of feeling, which I should have been compelled to sustain, I did not hear Mr Baldwin. But I am told the scene was truly affecting. A great part of the House was in tears: & on the rising of the House the eastern members hovered around Mr Baldwin: some shook him by the hand: others sollicited an introduction. Such magnanimity in a defeated adversary excited universal applause. The discussion must have produced a considerable effect. This morning Mr Hunter of Essex—an intelligent member, expressed great fears. The mode of drawing the lines was called in question—as favoring the Central College. I had prepared East & West & N & South lines, which threw the point of intersection somewhere near the S. end of Fluvanna. One of the Rockbridge Delegates suggested2 another method of settling the pretensions of3 rival sites, with a view to discredit the mode pursued by yourself. His idea was this—draw a line from one of the places to the other—bisect this line by another line runing across4 the state. And the place which should be found on the side of the line, where the greatest mass of population should fall, would be nearest the center of population. This idea was suggested on saturday: & I did not hear of it till last night. I rose early this morning & with the assistance of Mr Hoomes of K. & Queen, my room mate, applied this rule: & found to the east of the Line 137,000 white inhabitants more than to the west. These tables were used in the debate. One of the Rockbridge delegates objected to the statement about the center of population lately published in the Enquirer: that the free negros & mulattos were included: the fact was admitted, & the coloured people deducted & the center still fell east of Charlottesville. I imagine you fell into the error of including the coloured population, by deducting the slaves from the Totals in the Census of 1810.—At a future day, I will give you further particulars, & inform you of the names of the gentlemen who have contributed to the happy results of this day.—I have just received Chancellor Carr’s letter. The Hint was unnecessary: we shall take care of the bill in the Senate. I do not write to him,5 because I suppose he has left you. I awoke two nights ago, about 3 o’clock with an alarming spitting of blood, which continued till 10’ o’clock. It was probably brought on by exposure to bad weather & loss of sleep. I have been twice bled, & have taken medicine: & feel myself on the recovery.—I feel happy in the idea that this note will give you great pleasure.

faithfully yours

Joseph C. Cabell

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); endorsed by TJ as received 22 Jan. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Joseph Miller, 30 Jan. 1819, on verso; addressed: “Mr Jefferson Monticello”; franked; postmarked Richmond, 18 Jan.

On 16 Jan. 1819 Rockbridge County delegate Andrew Alexander moved to strike the central college from the bill naming it as the site of the University of Virginia. On the same day Briscoe G. Baldwin made a lengthy speech in the House of Delegates extolling the advantages of Staunton as a potential site for the university and calling on the eastern portion of the state to recognize both the importance of their western brethren and their efforts during the War of 1812 by locating the institution to the west. When it became clear on 18 Jan. that his advocacy of Staunton had failed, Baldwin nonetheless urged the western delegation to support the creation of the University of Virginia in the interest of state unity (Richmond Enquirer, 19 Jan. 1819).

Nemine contradicente (nem: con.): “without opposition or dissent” (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ). John Bowyer, of Rockbridge County, objected to the mode pursued by TJ for determining the center of the state’s population, both for the arbitrary manner in which the lines were drawn and for the inclusion of free blacks in the population count (Richmond Enquirer, 19 Jan. 1819; see also TJ’s Notes on the Geographic Center of Virginia’s Population, printed above at 4 Aug. 1818).

1Word interlined in place of “question.”

2Word interlined in place of “proposed.”

3Cabell here canceled “<the two> Lexington & Charlottesville.”

4Manuscript: “a cross.”

5Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • African-Americans; population of in Va. search
  • Alexander, Andrew; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Baldwin, Briscoe Gerard; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Bowyer, John; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; health of search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Carr, Dabney (1773–1837) (TJ’s nephew); and University of Virginia search
  • Carr, Dabney (1773–1837) (TJ’s nephew); visits Monticello search
  • Census, U.S.; of1810 search
  • Central College; as state university of Va. search
  • health; spitting blood search
  • Hoomes, Thomas Claiborne; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Hunter, James; and establishment of University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Bill to Establish a University search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the Geographic Center of Virginia’s Population search
  • medicine; bloodletting search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Carr, Dabney (1773–1837) search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints TJ’s Notes on the Geographic Center of Virginia’s Population search
  • Staunton, Va.; as potential location for state university search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; and General Assembly search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; Bill to Establish a University search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; Notes on the Geographic Center of Virginia’s Population search
  • Virginia; center of population of search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; Senate search