Thomas Jefferson Papers

George W. Campbell to Thomas Jefferson, 9 September 1815

From George W. Campbell

Nashville 9th Sepbr 1815

Dear Sir,

I have long intended troubling you with a letter, but have been deterred for want of something that seemed worthy your perusal—I should have embraced the occasion presented by your friendly & esteemed favor of last summer handed me by Mr Barnes of George Town, of carrying my intention into execution, had not the very delicate state of my health, with the requisite attention to official duties imposed on me the necessity of omitting for the time every kind of correspondence that could be dispensed with.

The favorable sentiments you have been pleased to express in relation to the views with which I entered into public office are entitled to, & receive my sincere acknowledgments. The best reward we can receive in this life, & that which must prove most gratful to our feelings, for pure motives & sincere efforts to promote the public good is undoubtedly the good opinion of those we most esteem in society; & whose talents & virtues have distinguished them as the great Luminaries of the age that light up the way for their followers. The best evidence, perhaps that I could furnish in support of your opinion as to the views I carried into office, may be found in my retiring from that office, so soon as the impaired state of my health, was likely to prevent me, at least for a time, from rendering those services to the public that under other circumstances might have been expected.

Since retireing from public business, my health, though it continued some time imperfect, has very much improved, and been better for the last 6 months than for several preceeding years.

I should feel much gratified in learning the state of your health, which I trust remains unimpaired; and which I sincerely wish may long continue so in your passage down the stream of life, that is no doubt to you perfectly smooth & tranquil.

What have we here that could prove interesting to you? Our great national concerns, if you permit the passing events to intrude on your retirement are much better known to you than to us; & matters of a local nature can hardly lay claim to your particular notice. The return of peace was hailed in this quarter with the most lively & Sincere gratulations; & looked upon as an era from which to calculate a long period of prosperous & uninterrupted national repose; but the dreadful storm which has lately exploded1 on the continent of Europe & threatens to deluge in blood, as indeed it has already in part done, the fairest portion of that quarter of the globe, which has scarcely had time to breathe from the ravages & convulsions of preceeding2 wars; is calculated to incite some uneasiness for our future destiny. The prospect, however remote, of Seeing our beloved country again envolved3 in war is an unwelcome, unpleasant reflection! It will however, press itself upon our notice, and is there not in the present state of the civilized world some ground for the apprehension?4 May not the late extraordinary events in Europe, that baffle all calculations, & must astonish even the better informed of all parties, & countries result in the establishment of principles dangerous to liberty, & the Independance of nations? Interesting as this subject is I must not persue it further—

The rapid progress of this Section of the union5 in population, wealth, & political importance cannot fail to prove satisfactory to you, who always appeared disposed to favor its rising6 prosperity, by affording its natural advantages a fair opportunity of fully developing7 themselves. The light of Science begins to dawn here; & several institutions for the education of youth are established by law in different parts of the state; the beneficiel effects of which are already experienced by the various classes8 of Society.9

When I began to write, I did not intend to exhaust your patience; I fear however, I may have done so. I will therefore close, by tendering you assurances of the very high respect, & consideration,  

with which I am, Sir, Your Sincere friend and most Obedt

G W. Campbell

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Late President of the United States—Monticello Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Oct. 1815 and so recorded in SJL; with notation beneath endorsement by TJ: “his health.” Dft (NjP: Andre deCoppet Collection).

Napoleon’s March 1815 return from exile on Elba caused a storm in Europe (Connelly, Napoleonic France description begins Owen Connelly and others, eds., Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1799–1815, 1985 description ends , 246–7).

1Word interlined in Dft in place of “burst.”

2Word interlined in Dft in place of “former distructive.”

3Reworked in Dft from “The prospect of being again involved.”

4Remainder of paragraph added at foot of Dft, keyed to this point with an asterisk.

5Preceding four words interlined in Dft in place of “Western Country.”

6Word interlined in Dft in place of “growing.”

7Reworked in Dft from “opportunity to develope.”

8Word interlined in Dft in place of “grades.”

9In Dft Campbell here canceled “The principles of Republicanism prevail in this quarter with as little nurture as in any portion of the union.”

Index Entries

  • Barnes, John; introduced to G. W. Campbell by TJ search
  • Campbell, George Washington; health of search
  • Campbell, George Washington; letters from search
  • Campbell, George Washington; retirement of search
  • Campbell, George Washington; TJ introduces J. Barnes to search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; returns to power search
  • War of1812; public opinion of search