Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 5 January 1815

To Joseph C. Cabell

Monticello Jan. 5. 15.

Dear Sir

Your favor of Dec. 27. with the letter inclosed, has been recieved. knowing well that the bank-mania still possesses the great body of our countrymen, it was not expected that any radical cure of that could be at once effected. we must go further wrong, probably to a ne plus ultra before we shall be forced into what is right. something will be obtained however, if we can excite, in those who think, doubt first, reflexion next, and conviction at last. the constitution too presents difficulties here with which the general government is not embarrassed. if your Auditor’s notes are made payable to bearer, and of sizes suitable for circulation, they will find their way into circulation, as well as into the hoards of the thrifty. especially in important payments for land Etc which are to lie on hand some time waiting for employment. a bank-note is now recieved only as a ‘Robin’s-alive.’

On mr Ritchie’s declining the publication of Tracy’s work, I proposed it to a mr Millegan of George town who undertakes it. I had therefore written to Genl Duane to forward it to him; so that it will not be in my possession until it is published. have you seen the Review of Montesquieu by an anonymous author? the ablest work of the age. it was translated and published by Duane about 3. years ago. in giving the most correct analysis of the principles of political association which has yet been offered, he states, in the branch of political economy particularly, altho’ much in brief, some of the soundest and most profound views we have ever had on those subjects.—I have lately recieved a letter from Say. he has in contemplation to remove to this country, and to this neighborhood particularly; and asks from me answers to some enquiries he makes. could the petition which the Albemarle academy addressed to our legislature have succeeded at the late session, a little aid additional to the objects of that would have enabled us to have here immediately the best seminary of the US. I do not know to whom P. Carr (President of the board of trustees) committed the petition and papers; but I have seen no trace of their having been offered. thinking it possible you may not have seen them, I send for your perusal the copies I retained for my own use. they consist 1. of a letter to him, sketching at the request of the trustees, a plan for the institution. 2. one to Judge Cooper in answer to some observations he had favored me with, on the plan. 3. a copy of the petition of the trustees. 4. a copy of the act we wished from the legislature. they are long. but, as we always counted on you as the main pillar of their support, and we shall probably return to the charge at the next session, the trouble of reading them will come upon you, and as well now as then. the lottery allowed by the former act, the proceeds of our two glebes, and our dividend of the literary fund, with the reorganisation of the institution are what was asked in that petition. in addition to this if we could obtain a loan, for 4. or 5. years, only, of 7. or 8000 D. I think I have it now in my power to obtain three of the ablest characters in the world to fill the higher professorships of what in the plan is called the IId or General grade of education; three such characters as are not in a single university of Europe: and for those of languages & Mathematics, a part of the same grade, able professors doubtless could also be readily obtained. with these characters, I should not be afraid to say that the circle of the sciences composing that 2d or General grade, would be more profoundly taught here than in any institution in the US. and I might go farther. The Ist or Elementary grade of education is not developed in this plan; an authority only being asked to it’s Visitors for putting into motion a former proposition for that object. for an explanation of this therefore, I am obliged to add to these papers a letter I wrote some time since to mr Adams, in which I had occasion to give some account of what had been proposed here for culling from every condition of our people the natural aristocracy of talents & virtue, and of preparing it by education, at the public expence, for the care of the public concerns. this letter will present to you some measures still requisite to compleat & secure our republican edifice, and which remain in charge for our younger statesmen. on yourself, mr Rives, mr Gilmer, when they shall enter the public councils, I rest my hopes for this great accomplishment, and doubtless you will have other able coadjutors not known to me.

Colo Randolph having gone to Richmond before the rising of the legislature, you will have had an opportunity of explaining to him personally the part of your letter respecting his petition for opening the Milton falls, which his departure prevented my communicating to him. I had not heard him speak of it, and had been glad, as to myself, by the act recently passed, to have saved our own rights in the defensive war with the Rivanna company, and should not have advised the renewing and carrying the war into the enemy’s country. Be so good as to return all the inclosed papers after perusal, and to accept assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); at foot of first page: “Joseph C. Cabell esq.”; endorsed by Cabell as answered 5 Mar. 1815. PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ. Enclosures: (1) TJ to Peter Carr, 7 Sept. 1814. (2) TJ to Thomas Cooper, 7 Oct. 1814. (3) Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the 1796 Public Schools Act, [ca. 18 Nov. 1814]. (4) TJ to John Adams, 28 Oct. 1813. Other enclosure not found, but for information about the Albemarle Academy Board of Trustees’ petition, see the editorial headnote to the Minutes of the Albemarle Academy Board of Trustees, 25 Mar. 1814, and JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends (1815–16 sess.), 23, 38 (7, 14 Dec. 1814).

In the game of robin’s-alive a burning object is passed quickly from person to person (William Wells Newell, Games and Songs of American Children [1883], 135–6). The former act was the Virginia General Assembly’s 12 Jan. 1803 “Act to establish an academy in the county of Albemarle, and for other purposes” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1802–03 sess.], 23–4). The act recently passed was the 22 Dec. 1814 “Act authorizing William Wood of the County of Albemarle, to open and improve the navigation of the Rivannah River, and for other purposes” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1814–15 sess.], 113–5).

An undated letter from Thomas Mann randolph to TJ, not found, is recorded in SJL as received 7 Mar. 1815 from Richmond.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; mentioned search
  • Albemarle Academy; and sale of glebe lands search
  • Albemarle Academy; Board of Trustees, officers of search
  • Albemarle Academy; lottery for search
  • Albemarle Academy; petition of search
  • Albemarle Academy; requests Literary Fund dividend search
  • An Act authorizing William Wood of the County of Albemarle, to open and improve the navigation of the Rivannah River, and for other purposes (1814) search
  • An Act to establish an academy in the county of Albemarle, and for other purposes (1803) search
  • A Treatise on Political Economy (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • banks; currency issued by search
  • banks; TJ on search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Destutt de Tracy’s writings search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Rivanna Company search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and TJ’s ideas on finance search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters to search
  • Carr, Peter (1770–1815) (TJ’s nephew); and Albemarle Academy search
  • Central College, Board of Visitors; duties of search
  • Central College; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); TJ on search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and university curriculum search
  • currency; paper search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; A Treatise on Political Economy search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Duane, William; and Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • education, collegiate; TJ on search
  • education; elementary search
  • education; TJ on search
  • games; robin’s alive search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; and education reform search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; aristocracy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; banks search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; education search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • lotteries; for Albemarle Academy search
  • Milligan, Joseph; and Destutt de Tracy’s Treatise on Political Economy search
  • political economy; works on search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); letters from accounted for search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); petition to General Assembly search
  • Ritchie, Thomas; and works of Destutt de Tracy search
  • Rivanna Company; navigation rights of search
  • Rivanna River; navigation rights search
  • Rives, William Cabell; and education reform search
  • robin’s alive (game) search
  • Say, Jean Baptiste; considers immigrating to U.S. search
  • Virginia; constitution of (1776) search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; wartime financing in search