Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Quesnay de Beaurepaire, 22 December 1787

To Quesnay de Beaurepaire

Paris Dec. 22. 1787.


The hour of the departure of the post permitting me to continue to write to America till one oclock, and your departure for Versailles rendering it necessary you should receive by three oclock the Plan for an Academy, which you had been pleased to send me, it has been impracticable for me to give it but a cursory and partial reading, and now leaves me but a moment to return you my thanks for th[at] communication, and my sense of the disinterestedness and zeal you shew in it. A friend to science and the arts, I cannot but be pleased with every rational proposal for extending them. I am fearful however from the accounts which we receive thence of poverty, debts, distress and the want of money, that my countrymen may not be in a situation to support effectually so extensive an institution, and to reward it’s professors and promoters as they may merit: in fine that neither the population nor wealth of Richmond and it’s vicinities may fulfill their expectations. Permit me at the same time to assure you that no one would rejoice more than myself to see those fears dissipated, and your undertaking prove successful. I have the honor to be with much esteem Sir your most obed. humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC). Enclosure (missing): Doubtless a manuscript version of Quesnay’s plan for an academy at Richmond which was later printed as Mémoire Statuts et Prospectus, concernant l’Académie des Sciences et Beaux Arts des Etats-Unis de l’Amérique, établie à Richemond, Paris, 1788 (see Sowerby, description begins Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, compiled with annotations by E. Millicent Sowerby, Washington, 1952–53 description ends No. 1119).

On Quesnay’s academy at Richmond, see Quesnay to TJ, 6 Jan. 1788, 2 and 8 Mch. 1789; TJ to Quesnay, 6 Jan. 1788; TJ to Limozin, 22 Jan. 1788; also R. H. Gaines, “Richmond’s First Academy, Projected by M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire in 1786,” Virginia Historical Collections, xi (1891), 167–75; “Laying the Corner Stone of Quesnay’s Academy,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends , xi (1904), 253–5; Mrs. Suzanne K. Sherman, “Post-Revolutionary Theatre in Virginia, 1784–1810,” Ch. ii, unpublished thesis, Library of the College of William and Mary; John G. Roberts, “An Exchange of Letters between Jefferson and Quesnay de Beaurepaire,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893- description ends (1942), 134–42, and “Francois Quesnay’s Heir,” same, 143–50. Part of Quesnay’s Mémoire has been translated in Samuel Mordecai’s Richmond in By-Gone Days, Richmond, 1946, p. 200–10. For a discussion of the various states of the text of the Mémoire, see John C. Wylie, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, xxxv (1941), 73–4.

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