Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 22 January 1818

From Joseph C. Cabell

Richmond. 22d Jan: 1818.

Dear Sir,

I hope you will not think me neglectful in not having sooner acknowledged the receipt of your letters of 31st ult: and of 6th 14th and 15th inst, to all of which I have paid all the attention compatible with my immediate and indispensable duties in the Senate. Your letter of 31st ult, not seeming to demand a speedy answer I have taken the liberty to lay it by for some weeks, till I could conveniently institute the requisite search in the Register’s office, and the proper enquiries from the members from the part of the state in which the land is supposed to be situated. It shall be attended to in the course of one or two weeks. All your letters relative to the Central College, & the Literary fund, are received with pleasure & gratitude, and immediately communicated to such gentlemen in the House of Delegates as I think it important should see them. As soon as the Report arrived, I read it with great satisfaction, waited upon the Governor and delivered it to him, & requested him to communicate it without delay to the Assembly. 250 Copies were ordered to be printed by the House of Delegates, one of which I now have the pleasure to enclose you. I have been particular in my enquiries as to the impression made by it on the members of the House of Delegates. It seems to have been received as an able production, with some great names attached to it: but does not appear to have had any material influence on the feelings1 or opinions of the majority of the House. Among an enlightened few it has been read with fervor & admiration. It cannot but add weight to our claims on the Legislature. As soon as I opened your Letter of 14th defending your scheme of primary schools I went in search of the clerk of the Committee of schools and Colleges, made him copy it, and handed the copy to Mr Scott chairman of the Committee, whilst I am myself communicating the original to other members of that House. The Committee after long delays, have at length reported a bill containing the outlines of your bill, with some modifications. What these are I am unable now to inform you, but will enclose you a copy as soon as the printed copies come out, which will be to-morrow or next day. I am informed that the popular scheme is to give all the Literary fund to primary schools. But nothing seems decided on. The Bill will be taken up in the House of Delegates on 29th inst. A motion has been made in that House to remove the seat of Govt. It was brought forward by a federal member from Campbell, and I cannot but suspect that he has been stimulated to make it, by some artful man beyond the Ridge, with the view of rekindling sectional feelings. One of your Delegates, Garth, is indiscreet enough to appear among the advocates. I have endeavored thro’ Mr Minor to keep his mouth shut. But he still goes on, and as far as his voice can be supposed to speak that of his enlightened constituents, his course is calculated to injure the cause of the College. He seems to be lukewarm in that cause, notwithstanding his professions to the contrary. The proposition to remove the seat of Govt has been voted reasonable by the Committee, but will be voted out in the House. The friends of the Washington College hang upon our flanks, & encumber every step of our progress. If that pitiful place were not in existence, we could get along, but as it is, I fear they will mar our success. Little Mallory of Orange, (from Mr Madison’s county) has been drawn over to the opposite party. Should we fail here this winter, I beg leave to suggest the plan of your endeavoring to get men of talents & influence in the middle country to come into the next Assembly. I have already prevailed on Mr Wm Brent of Stafford to become a candidate. Mr John T. Brooke will probably join him. I applied to Genl Cocke a few days ago: he is very averse, but promised to think of it. Wm G. Poindexter of Goochland would come in, but his health will not admit of it.—You and Mr Madison & Mr Monroe might greatly aid in this business.—Excuse the digression. I am now treating with the Banks for the proposed loan.—You shall hear from me again very soon. Before I conclude, I will barely observe, that if no university should be created, I think of getting a bill introduced, praying for an annuity out of the Lit: fund, as the most acceptable shape in which we could approach the Assembly. Our $40,000 could be expended in the buildings, and the annuity might go to endow the professorships. $3500, would suffice, but ought we not to ask for $5000? I enclose you a note from Chancellor Taylor to shew the feelings excited in liberal men by your exertions in the cause of education.

I am dear Sir faithfully yours

Joseph C. Cabell.

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); addressed: “Mr Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Jan. 1818 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) printed copy of Central College Board of Visitors to James P. Preston, 6 Jan. 1818. (2) Creed Taylor to Cabell, Manchester, 17 Jan. 1818, stating, after a brief greeting, that he “has read with much interest, the bills and the documents, in relation to a system of public education; and, he would be delighted, to See such a System adopted—Amend it afterwards, if necessary, to remove those objections, which may occur, in the operations of the plan. He is pleased with the System, first, because he sees in it much public good; and, secondly, because it comes from the pen of one who, has done so much, for his fellow man: for, C.T. would be among the last who should refuse to that distinguished sage, any thing that would enable him, to sing with pleasure his ‘Nunc demittas.’ Should the plan, however, fail, Mr Cabell, may command freely the services of C.T. as one of the friends of the Central college, to which, he means, if necessary, to make a liberal donation” (RC in ViU: TJP-PC; addressed: “Joseph C. Cabell, esquire, of the Senate, Richmond”; endorsed by Cabell).

On 20 Jan. 1818 Robert G. Scott, chair of the Committee of Schools and Colleges, presented to the Virginia House of Delegates a piece of legislation containing the outlines of TJ’s Bill for Establishing a System of Public Education, [ca. 24 Oct. 1817]. The proposed statute was entitled “A Bill Providing for the endowment of Primary Schools, Academies, Colleges, and an University” (printed Dft bill in Vi: RG 79, House of Delegates, Rough Bills; JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends [1817–18 sess.], 134–5).

Campbell County delegate Jesse Burton offered a motion on 19 Jan. “That a committee be appointed to enquire into the expediency of moving the seat of government from the city of Richmond to the centre of the State” (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends [1817–18 sess.], 131). the ridge: the Blue Ridge Mountains.

1Manuscript: “feeligns.”

Index Entries

  • A Bill for Establishing a System of Public Education search
  • A Bill Providing for the endowment of Primary Schools, Academies, Colleges, and an University search
  • banks; in Va. search
  • Blue Ridge Mountains; as political divide search
  • Brent, William (of Stafford Co.); as potential Va. legislator search
  • Brooke, John T.; as potential Va. legislator search
  • Burton, Jesse; as Va. legislator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and establishment of Central College search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; on Va. General Assembly search
  • Central College; bank loan for search
  • Central College; establishment of search
  • Central College; funding for search
  • Central College Board of Visitors; report of, to J. P. Preston search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell (1780–1866); as potential Va. legislator search
  • education; elementary search
  • education; in Va. search
  • Garth, Jesse Winston; as Va. legislator search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; A Bill for Establishing a System of Public Education search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Central College Board of Visitors’ report to J. P. Preston search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and candidates for Va. legislature search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); mentioned search
  • Mallory, Robert; as Va. legislator search
  • Minor, Dabney; as Va. legislator search
  • Monroe, James; and candidates for Va. legislature search
  • Poindexter, William Green; as Va. state senator search
  • Poinsot, Peter; land grant to search
  • Preston, James Patton; Central College Board of Visitors’ report to search
  • Richmond, Va.; banks in search
  • schools and colleges; elementary search
  • schools and colleges; Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) search
  • Scott, Robert G.; as Va. legislator search
  • Taylor, Creed; and Central College search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • Virginia; banks in search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; land grants in search
  • Virginia; Literary Fund search
  • Virginia; Senate search
  • Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) search