Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Cooper to Thomas Jefferson, 8 November 1813

From Thomas Cooper

Carlisle Nov. 8–1813

Dear Sir

I sent you about a twelve month ago, a copy of my edition of Justinian’s institutes, and another copy of my introductory lecture; I presume you received them as I sent them if I do not mistake under Mr Madison’s care.

I write at present to say that I have at my disposal Dr Priestley’s library and apparatus. The library consists of about 4400 Volumes of all descriptions, some of them very valuable. There are of course many [the]ological works, but they are in a great measure such as a Man of learning would like to possess for consultation. I value his Library at 5000. Dlrs, & his philosophical apparatus at 1000. Do you know any seminary likely to become purchaser? If I could afford it, they should not go out of my possession, but I cannot.

I have offered them to William & Mary College at Williamsburgh in your State, from whence I have received an invitation as Ch[emical]1 professor. I am strongly inclined to accept the invitation, if I thought the place was healthy, and I could have a good apparatus there, f[or] I am looked at with great suspicion and distrust by a body of Parsons who form a large part of the Trustees of this College. I have done and said nothing since my two years residence here, to irritate in the slightest degree this Genus irritabile—I have even gone to Church with tolerable regularity, but I think they hate me with more cordiality because I have furnished them with no ground of complaint.

This makes me uncomfortable here, although with my Professorship and my authorship I make out to live tolerably well.

I have now published 3 Numbers of the Emporium, each number containing about 160 or 170 pages, and coming out every two months. In my next I shall insert a paper on political Economy by Dr Erick Bollman, written with talent, but as I think with very high toned federal feelings. Pray is it a secret who wrote the Commentary on Montesquieu? He ascribes it to you, but I have always understood it to be the work of a frenchman, and written in french. I do not agree with it in toto, but it is a valuable work.

Have you attended to the Opinion of the Judges in answer to Governor Strong’s questions in the appendix to 8th Massach. Rep.?

It seems to me, a blow at the Union. I have been attacking it in a new paper published by J. Conrad in Pha The American Register, but the federalists chuckle at it. Adieu. Believe me with sincere esteem Dear Sir Your friend

Thomas Cooper

RC (MHi); holes in manuscript; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Dec. 1813 and so recorded in SJL.

Despite his bouts with the genus irritabile (“irritable class”), Cooper remained at Dickinson College until 1815 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ). Justus Erich Bollman’s piece on political economy appeared in the December 1813 issue of the Emporium of Arts & Sciences, 119–61. On 1 Aug. 1812 Massachusetts governor Caleb Strong asked his state’s supreme court “Whether the commanders in chief of the militia of the several states have a right to determine whether any of the exigencies contemplated by the constitution of the United States exist, so as to require them to place the militia, or any part of it in the service of the United States” and, if so, whether “the militia thus employed can be lawfully commanded by any officers but of the militia, except by the president of the United States.” The “exigencies” for federal use of the militia enumerated in Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution are “to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” The justices answered affirmatively to the first question and negatively to the second (Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [Newburyport, Mass., 1813], 8:549–54). Cooper was apparently “An American,” whose pseudonymous contribution on the controversy appeared in the inaugural 25 Sept. 1813 issue of the Philadelphia American Weekly Messenger; or, Register of state papers, history and politics (the american register).

1Reading supplied from transcription of this text in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 7th ser., 1 (1900): 185.

Index Entries

  • American Weekly Messenger; or, Register of state papers, history and politics (Philadelphia newspaper) search
  • Bollman, Justus Erich search
  • books; on law search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); T. Cooper on search
  • Conrad, John search
  • Constitution, U.S.; and state militias search
  • Cooper, Thomas; academic career of search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and Emporium of Arts & Sciences search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and J. Priestley’s library and philosophical apparatus search
  • Cooper, Thomas; Introductory Lecture search
  • Cooper, Thomas; letters from search
  • Cooper, Thomas; on Destutt de Tracy’s publication search
  • Cooper, Thomas; on state militias search
  • Cooper, Thomas; The Institutes of Justinian. With Notes search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Dickinson College; trustees of search
  • Emporium of Arts & Sciences; mentioned search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • law; books on search
  • Madison, James; forwards books to TJ search
  • Massachusetts; supreme court search
  • militia; use of under U.S. Constitution search
  • newspapers; Philadelphia American Weekly Messenger; or, Register of state papers, history and politics search
  • Philadelphia; newspapers in search
  • Priestley, Joseph; library and scientific apparatus of search
  • Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts search
  • schools and colleges; Dickinson College search
  • Strong, Caleb; governor of Mass. search
  • The Institutes of Justinian. With Notes (T. Cooper) search
  • The Introductory lecture of Thomas Cooper, Esq., professor of chemistry at Carlisle College, Pennsylvania search
  • William and Mary, College of; faculty of search