Thomas Jefferson Papers

Horatio G. Spafford to Thomas Jefferson, 25 December 1815

From Horatio G. Spafford

Albany, 12 Mo. 25, 1815.

Esteemed Friend—

I enclose to thee a long Paper, which I wish to have thee read, & to favor me with thy suggestions on any amendment or alteration. I wish to learn thy opinion of the propriety of the sentiments, & whether or not it may be well to publish them now. It was intended for the Dec. & Jan. Nos. of my Magazine, but I have concluded to delay it till January. Please have the goodness to enclose the Paper to President Madison, for his perusal, as soon as thou hast had time to read it;—& to favor me with thy remarks. The people in the S. are not sufficiently aware of that despotism of theological opinion that threatens us in this quarter. Its influence must be counteracted. The history of our principal Schools of literature, would make the alarming progress of this influence plain. The man I allude to in p. 19, is Dr Mason, Pres. Columbia College, New York. This paragraph alone, would make quite a bustle in the nests of young theologians.

I want to dedicate this Paper to thee, & ask thy permission. Thy name is a host—& the man who has braved danger through life, in discharge of duty, will certainly not fear the Priests. If thou wilt point out any improvements, I shall be glad to avail myself of thy great knowledge: & could wish to make the Paper worthy of the Man to whom I would dedicate it.

The life of Baron S. is concluded in the No of the Magazine I now send thee—& in my next I shall publish Count Volney’s Letter, which I probably mentioned when I wrote thee before.

The ill state of my health must be my apology for the unfinished state of the Paper on the School, as well as for this hasty & illegible scrawl.

With esteem, thy friend,

H. G. Spafford.

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Th: Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 Jan. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) MS (not found) of Spafford’s essay on establishing a national school of science and the mechanical arts and reforming the patent system, the published version of which subsequently appeared in the American Magazine, a monthly miscellany, vol. 1, nos. 8–9 (Jan.–Feb. 1816): 289–97, 313–26. (2) American Magazine, a monthly miscellany, vol. 1, no. 6 (Nov. 1815).

Spafford also wrote a letter this day to James madison on the subject of his essay, advising the president that he had asked TJ to forward the manuscript to him (DLC: Madison Papers). John Mitchell mason was the provost, not the president, of Columbia College (later Columbia University) (DAB, 4:326, 6:369).

Index Entries

  • American Magazine; edited by H. G. Spafford search
  • Columbia College (later Columbia University); J. M. Mason as provost of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and H. G. Spafford search
  • Mason, John Mitchell; as provost of Columbia College search
  • North, William; biography of F. W. von Steuben by search
  • schools and colleges; Columbia College (later Columbia University) search
  • schools and colleges; national technology school proposed search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and J. Madison search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; as editor ofAmerican Magazine search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters from search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; national technology school proposed by search
  • Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm von; biography of search
  • Volney, Constantin François Chasseboeuf, comte de; publication of correspondence of search