Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 5 March 1815

From Joseph C. Cabell

Warminster. 5 March. 1815.

Dear Sir,

After a long detention on the road by the deep snow that fell in the latter part of the month of January I arrived here on 5th ult, since which I have had the pleasure to receive your favor of 5th Jan: together with the papers enclosed. you have imposed on me new obligations by this communication. The particular posture of my domestic affairs at the time I reached home, and the new arrangements in regard to my property demanded by the return of peace, have not permitted me to go over these interesting papers as often, nor to consider their contents as fully & maturely as I could desire. I have read them several times, and bestowed a good deal of reflection on them; but I will beg the favor of another reading towards the end of the year & immediately previous to the meeting of the Assembly. In the interval I shall make a visit to Albemarle, when I should be happy to converse with you and to express more fully than I can at present my views of this subject. Why the petition was not presented I cannot inform you. The papers1 were never shewn to me, nor did I ever hear of them but incidentally, and I believe2 after it had been determined not to bring them to the view of the Assembly. Col: Yancey generally consulted with me on the business from Albemarle, and once observed that certain papers relative to an Academy proposed to be established in Charlottesville had been sent down: that they were drawn by yourself, and were so finished off and complete, that the Delegates had only to determine on the expediency of presenting them. I collected from him, that they were in the hands of some of the members of the House of Delegates who would consider & exercise a discretion on the question of their presentment. Being a member of the upper House, I waited of course for the petition to make its appearance in the lower House before I could take up the subject; which at that time I supposed was one of a much more local & confined nature, than I find it really is. Subsequently to this conversation with Col: yancey, I was accidentally a witness to a small part of a conversation between Doctor Carr & Mr Wirt upon the subject of these papers, when Doctor Carr remarked that they had been sent by Mr Peter Carr to Mr David Watson of Louisa, who had determined from some cause or other that they should not be presented at the Last session. I have the highest respect & friendship for Mr Watson, & concluded that the reasons which had decided his mind, were solid & sufficient. This is the amount of the knowledge I then had on the subject. I assure you I had no hint from any quarter that I was expected to bestow particular care on3 this business, or I should have paid to it the greatest attention imaginable, & done any thing in the compass of my feeble abilities to promote your views. I confess I see nothing at this time that ought to impede the passage of your Bill thro’ the Assembly; nor can I conceive from what quarter objections could4 arise, unless from some of the people of Albemarle, who might not wish to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of the glebes to the establishment of an academy at Charlottesville, or from certain members of the Assembly, who might have other views of the ultimate destination of the Literary5 fund, or from certain Delegates from the Lower counties who might have fears for William & Mary, or from a certain class of members who might not wish to lend the amt prayed to be loaned. I hope there would be no other effect produced by the plan upon Wm & Mary than that necessarily resulting from another College in the State. Having had a considerable share in getting Mr Smith to take the Presidency, I should feel somewhat delicately situated in regard to that Seminary. I should be much pleased if such men as Mr say, could find it their interest to reside in Virginia. I have the Commentary on Montesquieu of which you speak, & have commenced its perusal. It is to be inferred from your Letters, I think, that Mr Tracy is the author. His political economy, I will purchase on Sight.

The honorable acquittal of my friend Coles gives me great pleasure. I leave this in a few days for the lower country, to make some new arrangements with my property in Lancaster. If Cockburn has not sent my negroes out of the U. States, I ought to have them again. But I presume they are now making Sugar in the West Indies, and if they have not left the limits of the U. States, I imagine the British will now as formerly disregard the treaty.6 The negroes from Corrottoman were carried to Tangier Island—From what I have heard, I am led to believe the enemy some time since broke up their establishment on that Island.

I am, dr Sir, with great respect yr friend

Joseph C. Cabell.

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); addressed: “Mr Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Mar. 1815 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ’s Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the 1796 Public Schools Act, [ca. 18 Nov. 1814], does not ask for any money to be loaned to the school by the Virginia General Assembly, but TJ mentioned the possibility in his 5 Jan. 1815 letter to Cabell. For the charges against Colonel Isaac A. Coles and his honorable acquittal, see TJ to Coles, 27 Aug. 1814, and note. In the spring of 1814 British admiral George cockburn selected Tangier Island as a refuge for the American slaves liberated by his forces during his campaigns in the Chesapeake Bay and began to organize a company of colonial marines made up of freed bondsmen (Malcomson, Historical Dictionary description begins Robert Malcomson, Historical Dictionary of the War of 1812, 2006 description ends , 107). Cabell owned a large estate called Corotoman (corrottoman) in Lancaster County (DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ).

1Reworked from “They.”

2Preceding two words interlined.

3Word interlined in place of “& attention to.”

4Cabell here canceled “fairly.”

5Manuscript: “Letirary.”

6Cabell here canceled “My negroes.”

Index Entries

  • Albemarle Academy; and sale of glebe lands search
  • Albemarle Academy; petition of search
  • Albemarle Academy; requests Literary Fund dividend search
  • A Treatise on Political Economy (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • books; on politics search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Albemarle Academy search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Central College establishment search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and College of William and Mary search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Destutt de Tracy’s writings search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; on J. B. Say’s proposed immigration to America search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; slaves of search
  • Carr, Frank; and Albemarle Academy search
  • Carr, Peter (1770–1815) (TJ’s nephew); and Albemarle Academy search
  • Central College; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • Cockburn, George; as British admiral search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; court-martial of search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); J. C. Cabell on search
  • Corotoman (J. C. Cabell’s Lancaster Co. estate); slaves from search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; A Treatise on Political Economy search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • political economy; works on search
  • Say, Jean Baptiste; considers immigrating to U.S. search
  • slaves; J. C. Cabell’s search
  • slaves; Tangier Island refuge for search
  • Smith, John Augustine; as president of College of William and Mary search
  • sugar; manufactured in West Indies search
  • Tangier Island; as refuge for liberated slaves search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; Senate search
  • War of1812; British liberate slaves during search
  • Watson, David (1773–1830); and Central College establishment search
  • weather; snow search
  • West Indies; sugar manufactured in search
  • William and Mary, College of; perceived threats to search
  • William and Mary, College of; president of search
  • Wirt, William; and Central College search
  • Yancey, Charles; and Central College search