Thomas Jefferson Papers

Trustees of the Lottery for East Tennessee College to Thomas Jefferson, 28 February 1810

From the Trustees of the Lottery for East Tennessee College

Knoxville Feby 28th 1810


A few years since the Congress of the United States ceded to this State a part of the Lands within its Limits, on certain Conditions, one of which required, that the proceeds of the Sale of one hundred thousand Acres should be applied to the support of two Colleges to be established by the Legislature. In compliance with this requisition in the year 1807 East Tennessee College was incorporated, and endowed with the profits arising from the proceeds of the Sale of one moiety of the Land thus appropriated to the Support of Colleges—This Land has been sold for one Dollar per Acre—The interest arising from this fund would if the Necessary Buildings Library &c were provided place it in the power of the Trustees of the Institution to render it immediately and extensively useful, but if the expence of erecting Buildings providing a Library &c is to be defrayed out of the Interest received, the present Generation must relinquish the Hope of receiving any benefit from the Institution—Convinced of this, and desiring as far as it was in their power to promote its interests, Our Assembly at their last session passed an Act authorising a Lottery for the benefit of this College—of this Lottery we were appointed the Trustees—On this occasion to point out the important benefits which Society derives from well conducted Literary Institutions would be superfluous—Knowing the deep interest which you feel in the Welfare of your Country, your anxiety to contribute to the permanency of our Republican Institutions and your Attachment to the cause of Literature, we have thought that we should but illy discharge the duty assigned us were we not to solicit your Aid to the Institution for the Benefit of which our Lottery is designed—We have taken the Liberty to inclose you a Copy of the Scheme & shall be happy to forward any number of Tickets you may be pleased to direct—

With Sentiments of the highest Respect we are your most Obedient Servants—
H. L. White
Thos McCorry
James Campbell
Robert Craighead
John N: Gamble

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); in an unidentified hand, signed by White, McCorry, Campbell, Craighead, and Gamble; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Mar. 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: 5,000 Dollars! Scheme of a Lottery, for the Benefit of East Tennessee College, Knoxville, 3 Jan. 1810, signed by all five trustees, announcing the sale of 11,000 $5 tickets and 3,405 cash prizes ranging from $6 to $5,000 for a total price fund of $55,000, with each prize subject to a 15 percent deduction to benefit the college; and urging support because the lottery is “not designed to retrieve a shattered fortune, nor to convert into cash, at an extravagant price, property which is of no use; but it is intended to aid the funds of a Seminary of Education, where youth of the present and succeeding generations, may have their minds prepared, in such a manner, as to make them ornaments to their families, and useful to their county—as will enable them to understand their rights as citizens, and their duties as servants of the people” (printed broadside at NcU).

Hugh Lawson White (1773–1840) was a native of North Carolina who moved in 1786 to the state’s western district, soon to become Tennessee. He became an attorney, sat on the Tennessee Superior Court of Law and Equity, 1801–07, and was presiding judge of its successor, the Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, 1809–15. White served in the state senate, 1807–08 and 1817–19, had a brief stint as United States district attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, 1808–09, and was president of the Bank of Tennessee, 1812–27. He was a member of the United States Senate, 1825–40, including service as president pro tempore, 1832–35. Although a longtime friend and supporter of Andrew Jackson, White helped found Tennessee’s Whig Party and lost a bid for the presidency in 1836 to Jackson’s hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:74 [18, 21 Mar. 1808]; Nashville Daily Republican Banner, 15 Apr. 1840).

Thomas McCorry (1776–1835), a sometime alderman of Knoxville, was appointed a trustee of Hamden Sidney Academy in Knox County in 1811, served as treasurer of East Tennessee as of 1813, and became a commissioner of the Hiwassee Canal Company in 1826 (Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 6 vols. description ends , 4:276; Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, 9th Assembly, 1st sess. [1811], 16; 10th Assembly, 1st sess. [1814], 189; 16th Assembly, extra sess. [1827], 94).

James Campbell (ca. 1772–1837) was a merchant and cashier of the Knoxville branch of the Bank of Tennessee. He served as a trustee of the Knoxville Library Company in 1817 and of Hamden Sidney Academy in 1830 (Pollyanna Creekmore, “Early East Tennessee Taxpayers,” East Tennessee Historical Society’s Publications 26 [1954]: 70; Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, 12th Assembly, 1st sess. [1817], 187; 18th Assembly, stated sess. [1829], 279; Knoxville Register, 8 Nov. 1837).

Robert Craighead (1751–1821) was a justice of the peace and longtime resident of Knox County (Creekmore, “Early East Tennessee Taxpayers,” 70; Knoxville Register, 15 May 1821).

John N. Gamble (ca. 1783–1818) was a native of Pennsylvania who served as deputy clerk of the Knox County Court, chief clerk of the Tennessee senate, and clerk of the federal district court in Knoxville (Creekmore, “Early East Tennessee Taxpayers,” 71; Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, 6th Assembly, 1st sess. [1805], 81; Knoxville Register, 17 Nov. 1818).

The act of congress endowing two Tennessee colleges was dated 18 Apr. 1806. east tennessee college was chartered in 1807, superseding Blount College (founded 1794), and became the University of Tennessee in 1879. A 22 Nov. 1809 Tennessee statute authorized a lottery to benefit the institution, but the scheme never attracted enough purchasers to be held. Its trustees wrote a similar letter to James Madison on 12 Feb. 1810 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States . . . 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:381–3; Tennessee Acts of 1794–1799 [Knoxville, 1799], 104–6; Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, 7th Assembly, 1st sess. [1807], 108–11; 8th Assembly, 1st sess. [1809], 133–4; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 29 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 7 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:227–8; Tennessee Historical Quarterly 3 [1944]: 273–4).

Index Entries

  • Campbell, James; and East Tennessee College search
  • Campbell, James; identified search
  • Campbell, James; letters from search
  • Craighead, Robert; and East Tennessee College search
  • Craighead, Robert; identified search
  • Craighead, Robert; letters from search
  • East Tennessee College; chartered search
  • East Tennessee College; letter from trustees of lottery for search
  • East Tennessee College; lottery to benefit search
  • Gamble, John N.; and East Tennessee College search
  • Gamble, John N.; identified search
  • Gamble, John N.; letters from search
  • lotteries; East Tennessee College search
  • Madison, James; and East Tennessee College search
  • McCorry, Thomas; and East Tennessee College search
  • McCorry, Thomas; identified search
  • McCorry, Thomas; letters from search
  • schools and colleges; East Tennessee College search
  • Tennessee; lottery in search
  • White, Hugh Lawson; and East Tennessee College search
  • White, Hugh Lawson; identified search
  • White, Hugh Lawson; letters from search