Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Mackey to Thomas Jefferson, 1 May 1816

From John Mackey

Philadelphia, May 1st 1816.

Mr Jefferson—

On the 18th day of last month, I addressed a packet to you, containing desultory views of education: and my motive for addressing those views to you was manifested in the concluding paragraph. If now you are not disposed to employ your influence and authority for promoting a circulation of those views in print, be pleased to send the Manuscript to me, at No 42, Union Street, Philadelphia.

I am the person who superintended the erection of the Works at Harper’s Ferry; and am now engaged in the business of a schoolmaster.

With much respect,

John Mackey

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire Monticello Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 8 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL.

John Mackey (Mackie), public official and schoolteacher, was foreign-born. His tenure as the first paymaster and public storekeeper for the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), 1798–1800, ended amidst complaints that he showed bias in awarding contracts, kept poor records, and supplied inadequate rations to his workers. In 1804 TJ noted on a list of possible candidates for federal appointments in Louisiana that Mackey was “in customs” at Philadelphia, was “dimsighted,” and had formerly resided in New Orleans. Later that year Mackey opened a school for girls in Philadelphia. He taught in that city until at least 1823. By 1825 Mackey had converted his school, then at 258 Mulberry Street, into a store, and he was listed there as a shopkeeper until 1835 (Merritt Roe Smith, Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change [1977], 37–48; James McHenry to William Simmons, 31 Mar. 1800 [DNA: RG 94, PRWP]; List of Candidates, [26 Mar. 1804] [DLC: TJ Papers, 119:20570–1]; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 6, 29 Oct., 6 Nov. 1804 [Mackey’s “Reflections on the method of teaching Grammar”], 30 July 1808; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory [Philadelphia, 1805]; Robert Desilver, The Philadelphia Index, or Directory [Philadelphia, 1823], 56; Thomas Wilson, The Philadelphia Directory and Stranger’s Guide [1825]: 92; [1835]: 121).

For the packet, see TJ to Mackey, 9 May 1816, and note.

Index Entries

  • Harpers Ferry, Va.; armory at search
  • Mackey, John (of Philadelphia); educational theories of search
  • Mackey, John (of Philadelphia); identified search
  • Mackey, John (of Philadelphia); letter from search
  • Mackey, John (of Philadelphia); superintends construction of arsenal search