Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 26 February 1816

From Joseph C. Cabell

Richmond. 26 Feb: 1816.

Dear Sir,

I have at length procured from the Editor of the Enquirer & now return your original Letter to Mr Carr. Its publication, in my opinion, was well timed, and has produced a happy effect on the measures of the assembly. We have appropriated all our U. States’ debt, except $600,000, to the purposes of education, and have required the President & Directors of the Literary Fund, to report to the next assembly the best plan of an university, colleges, academies & schools. The passage of both these measures is unquestionably to be ascribed in a great degree to your Letter. But, it may be asked, why enquire of the President & Directors of the Literary Fund, for plans, when one so satisfactory is already before the public? I will tell you. Appropriations abstracted from their location are most easily obtained. Should the next Assembly sanction the scheme of an university, you will see the Presbyterians about Lexington, and the Scotch Irish about Staunton, striving to draw it away from Albemarle, and the whole western delegation, according to custom, will threaten to divide the state unless this institution should be placed beyond the Ridge. Staunton wants the seat of government, and considers the day near at hand when she will be the metropolis of the state. Any brilliant establishment at the eastern foot of the Ridge will shake those claims, and disturb speculations founded upon them. Mr Mercer of the House of Delegates will be an advocate for a western scite. The Washington College at Lexington will be the bantling of the Federalists. But I think the Central College will triumph over them all. I am pleased to think that Governor Nicholas will be in office at the commencement of the next session of assembly. In the interim, the friends of science will be able to form the necessary plans to promote the general weal.—We have had some singular proceedings in the Caucuses at this place which were held for the purpose of making an electoral ticket. I had hoped never again to be involved in trouble about Col: monroe, and on this occasion, have been most reluctantly dragged into the business. This is the second instance in which a ruffian of a party of pretenders, fools & knaves, in our district, has taken the trouble to come all the way down to the assembly, to injure me in the public estimation: but I have the satisfaction to reflect, that in this, as in the former instance, the aggressor is exposed on the spot, & the injury aimed at myself, recoils upon his own head.

I am, dr Sir, yrs most faithfully & truly

Joseph C. Cabell

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Mar. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: TJ to Peter Carr, 7 Sept. 1814.

Thomas Ritchie was the editor of the Richmond Enquirer. In section 5 of “An Act appropriating the Public Revenue,” which passed into law on 24 Feb. 1816, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated all our u. states’ debt, except $600,000, to the purposes of education (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1815–16 sess.], 5–7).

The legislature also agreed to a joint resolution “on the subject of a system of Public Education,” in which it was “resolved, by the General Assembly, that the President and Directors of the Literary fund be requested to digest, and report to the next General Assembly, a system of public Education, calculated to give effect to the appropriations made to that object by the Legislature, heretofore, and during it’s present session; and to comprehend in such system the establishment of one University, to be called, ‘The University of Virginia,’ and such additional Colleges, Academies, and Schools, as shall diffuse the benefits of education throughout the Commonwealth, and such rules, for the government of such University, Colleges, Academies and Schools, as shall produce economy in the expenditures for the establishment and maintenance, and good order and discipline in the management, thereof—Agreed to by both Houses of the General Assembly of Virginia.—Feby 24th 1816” (Tr in DLC; entirely in William Munford’s hand; printed in Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1815–16 sess.], 266–7).

The former Washington Academy in Lexington became washington college (later Washington and Lee University) by a 2 Jan. 1813 act of the General Assembly (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1812–13 sess.], 90). Cabell was nominated a presidential elector during caucuses held in Richmond (Richmond Enquirer, 20 Feb. 1816).

Index Entries

  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and Central College establishment search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as presidential elector search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Carr, Peter (1770–1815) (TJ’s nephew); and Albemarle Academy search
  • Central College; as state university of Va. search
  • education; in Va. search
  • Lexington, Va.; potential location for state university search
  • Lexington, Va.; Washington Academy search
  • Lexington, Va.; Washington College search
  • Mercer, Charles Fenton; as Va. legislator search
  • Monroe, James; as presidential candidate search
  • Munford, William; clerk of Va. House of Delegates search
  • politics; elections search
  • religion; Presbyterians search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints TJ’s correspondence search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); T. Ritchie as editor of search
  • Ritchie, Thomas; as editor of RichmondEnquirer search
  • schools and colleges; Washington Academy (Lexington) search
  • schools and colleges; Washington College (Lexington) search
  • Staunton, Va.; as potential location for state university search
  • Staunton, Va.; potential location for state capital search
  • United States; debt to state of Va. search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; Literary Fund search
  • Washington Academy (later Washington and Lee University) search
  • Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) search