Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Levi Hunt, Jr., 18 May 1801

From Levi Hunt, Jr.

Preston (Con) 18th May—1801—

Dear Sir—

Permit me for a moment to solicit your attention from the affairs of a great nation to the situation of an unfortunate young man—nothing but a profound sense of the generosity of your character, and a conviction of the absolute necessity of the measure, could persuade me to make this almost desperate attempt to recover from the embarrassed state of my affairs—

My Father the Revd Levi Hunt, of Preston (Con) gave me early a domestic education—and at the age of 15 (in the year 98) I was entered freshman into Rhode Island College—his kind solicitude for my welfare assisted me through my first year; at the commencement of my second he informed me he could help me no longer, but if by my own exertions—I could continue in College it was his desire that I should—An anxious desire of improvement in science and relying on my youth determened me to pursue my studies—I am now entering on the last term of my junior year & find myself in debt to the amount of One hundred and fifty Dollars to borrow which sum is the object of my present address to you—If you should be pleased to answer my wishes I bind myself by every tie of Gratitude & honour to repay the sum in the following manner Viz—fifty Dollars—1st of April 1803—fifty Dolls—1st October 1803 and the remaining fifty the 1st of April 1804—I name these periods knowing it will be in my power to fulfill my engagement—If you should see fit to assist me please to [direct] to Providence (R.I.) where I shall await y[our] answer—Permit me Sir to mingle my prayer with those of a great people, that your life may be long, usefull, & happy—

I am Sir your Obedient humble Servant—

Levi Hunt Jun—

P.S. As my receiving a Letter from you Sir would be a matter of wonder will you be so good as not to frank your answer if you should see fit to comply with my request—

Levi Hunt Jun—

RC (DLC); torn at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of the U.S. City of Washington”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 May and so recorded in SJL.

Although no record has been found to indicate that TJ replied or sent payment, the nineteen-year-old Levi Hunt completed his studies and received his bachelor’s degree on 1 Sep. 1802 from the College of Rhode Island, where TJ had received an honorary doctor of law degree in 1787 (Boston Mercury and New-England Palladium, 7 Sep. 1802; Catalogus eorum qui in Collegio Rhodiae Insulae quod est Providentiae, ab anno MDCCLXIX ad annum MDCCCI, Alicujus Gradus Laurea donati sunt [Providence, 1801], Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 241).

Index Entries