Thomas Jefferson Papers

John H. Cocke to Thomas Jefferson, 29 September 1810

From John H. Cocke

Bremo, Septem: 29th 1810


I have been inform’d by my Friends Mr Coles, & Mr Cary, that I was so fortunate as to obtain a place on your list of Subscribers, for two Ewes, to your Merino Ram. They are accordingly sent herewith.—

There are also Six sent in conformity to the understanding existing between Yourself & Colo Fontaine.

A Letter from Colo Fontaine to Colo Randolph accompanies this— and I have taken the liberty, to send to your care a Book for Mr Divers—

Yours most respectfully

Jno H. Cocke

RC (CSmH: JF); addressed: “Mr Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Oct. 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

John Hartwell Cocke (1780–1866), planter, experimental farmer, and reformer, was a native of Surry County who attended the College of William and Mary, 1794–99. In 1808 he moved to Fluvanna County, where he had inherited over three thousand acres on the banks of the James River. Cocke promoted progressive agricultural methods, opposed tobacco cultivation, studied water and steam navigation, and in 1817 chaired the founding meeting of the Agricultural Society of Albemarle. Although he never held public office, he rose from captain to brigadier general in the militia during the War of 1812. Cocke opposed slavery and was senior vice president of the American Colonization Society from its founding in 1819 until his death. He was also active in religious and temperance movements such as the Sunday School Society and the American Temperance Union, serving as the latter’s first president in 1836. The many interests Cocke shared with TJ included farming practices, merino sheep, architecture, and education. He built numerous structures at his Bremo plantation with the assistance of TJ’s builder, John Neilson, and erected buildings out of pisé, a form of rammed-earth construction that also intrigued TJ. Their greatest collaboration was the founding of the state university, with Cocke successively serving on the Board of Visitors of Central College, 1816–19, and the University of Virginia, 1819–52. After TJ’s death Cocke unsuccessfully proposed that Monticello be purchased and turned into a preparatory school (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ; Bruce, University description begins Philip Alexander Bruce, History of the University of Virginia 1819–1919: The Lengthened Shadow of One Man, 1920–22, 5 vols. description ends , esp. 1:157–64; M. Boyd Coyner Jr., “John Hartwell Cocke of Bremo: Agriculture and Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South” [Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1961], esp. 25–6, 156; ViU: Cocke Papers; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 32 vols. description ends , 15:185; Fiske Kimball, “The Building of Bremo,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends 57 [1949]: 3–13; 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., 2:600; Daily Richmond Whig, 3, 4 July 1866). See photograph reproduced elsewhere in this volume.

Index Entries

  • Agricultural Society of Albemarle; officers of search
  • Albemarle County, Va.; Agricultural Society of search
  • Cary, Wilson Jefferson; and merino sheep search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell; and merino sheep search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell; identified search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell; letters from search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; and merino sheep search
  • Divers, George; mentioned search
  • Fontaine, William; and merino sheep search
  • Fontaine, William; and T. M. Randolph search
  • merino sheep; and J. H. Cocke search
  • Neilson (Nelson), John; and work at Bremo search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); W. Fontaine sends letter to search
  • Virginia, University of (Charlottesville); and J. H. Cocke search