Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Campbell, 12 February 1802

From David Campbell

Campbella State of Tennessee Feby. 12th. 1802

I discover that in the Disposition of the Federal Troops, who are to be continued in service, a certain number are alloted for the Garrison at South West point.

Doctor Thomas I. Vandyke acts as physician to the Troops that are now stationed there; permit me to recommend him as a proper person to be continued in that appointment. He is a Gentleman of very amiable manners, well versed in the differrent branches of Science & Literature, and a skilful physician.

I am peculiarly happy to find that your administration meets with the highest approbation of the great bulk of the Citizens of this State. My sincere & fervent desire is, that you may live long to steer the Vessel of these great confederated Republics safe, through the Stormy Ocean of mens passions and Interests.

My Son Jefferson is yet my only male child; he is now twelve years old; a fine genius, and in truth a beautiful boy. To what Accademy would it be most proper to send him, or ought I to continue him longer at a private School in this State. If you can find as much leisure from your Official Duties, I pray you inform me on this Subject.

My attachment to your person and interest, inspires me with a confidence that you will receive this private correspondence with Complacency.

I am with the most sincere Sentiments of invariable Friendship Your Obt. Servt.

David Campbell

RC (DLC); addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States of America City of Washington”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 7 Feb. received 8 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

In an undated letter that TJ received late in March, Tennessee’s congressional delegation—Senators Joseph Anderson and William Cocke, along with William Dickson, the state’s at-large member of the House of Representatives—also recommended Thomas J. Vandyke to be surgeon and physician to the garrison at Southwest Point, a function he was already performing in an acting capacity. Vandyke’s “Character as a man is unexceptionably fair,” the legislators wrote, and “he is Justly held in Very high estimation” as a physician and surgeon (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; in Anderson’s hand, also signed by Cocke and Dickson; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Mch. 1802 and “Thos. Vandyke to be Surgeon at S.W. point” and so recorded in SJL). Vandyke, who was originally from Delaware, had been a garrison surgeon’s mate with the army, 1794–95, and received an appointment as surgeon’s mate in March 1802. In December 1800, Campbell had recommended Vandyke to be the U.S. agent to the Cherokees (Heitman, Dictionary description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:982; Vol. 33:665, 667n).

Campbell informed TJ in the fall of 1791 that he had named his son Jefferson “that I might have the pleasure of hearing your name daily pronounced in my family” (Vol. 27:805; for TJ’s reply, see Vol. 22:290). Thomas Jefferson Campbell attended public schools in Tennessee, read law, and became an attorney and politician (Robert M. McBride and Dan M. Robison, Biographical Directory of the Tennessee General Assembly, 2 vols. [Nashville, 1975–79], 1:113, 116–17; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ).

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