Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Cooper to Thomas Jefferson, 19 September 1817

From Thomas Cooper

19 Sepr 1817 Philadelphia

Dear sir

I have seen two persons as teachers of the Classics neither of whom will suit. I have twice written to the person at Frankford according to his advertisement1 as Varro, and as F.G. but I have not seen or heard from him. shall I advertise? With reference for information to myself?

I have seen Col: Basset of Williamsburgh to day, and have declined that situation finally. Mr Hare I believe wishes to go there. Your proposal for Charlotteville, is uncertain and remote: but I have my plan before me here untill the middle of next summer. I think I shall give a course of chemical lectures at Richmond in the Spring. If I have time, I will draw up the elements of political Economy in the form of Lectures.

It is likely I may have inducements to stay here. If not, I would turn my thoughts to Charlotteville. But many points require to be considered and settled, whoever you engage for that situation.

He will want 1st an apartment for Philosophical Instruments and minerals that will injure by exposure to the action of chemical Vapours. 2ly a Laboratory and a lecture room for Chemistry. 3ly tho’ not necessary, some place for a workshop would be extremely convenient; for at such a place he must learn to put his own instruments in order.

By whom do you propose that the Philosophical & Chemical stock in trade should be furnished? I could not replace my instruments, chemical drugs & apparatus, minerals, & books immediately relating to Philosophical Subjects one cent under 2500 Dollars. setting me out of contemplation, where will you procure a philosopher with the necessary stock in trade? We are not rich as you well know. This should be settled.

Again Philosophical & Chemical Lectures without experiments, would amount to no instruction whatever. I calculate my expences in this way for a course in Philadelphia at 300 Dlrs for articles quæ ipso usu consumuntur. It would cost about 100 Dlrs at Charlotteville.2 I suggest to you these Items of consideration, which long experience has suggested to me. You will find much difficulty in procuring a person able to teach both french & latin: & still more in procuring a teacher of Chemistry Mineralogy, Botany, Zoology, & Anatomy all in one person. I could manage tolerably perhaps for the elements of Botany, Anatomy & Physiology; but of Zoology & comparative Anatomy I should know nothing but what I should find in Cuvier & La Marck: in english, there is absolutely nothing. I have read the first volume of La Marck’s late edition of Les Animaux sans Vertebres with great interest. All I read shews me how far the french are beyond the english. I should therefore be compelled to confess my incompetence to all the requisites you look for in a professor; and really I do not know at present any person more competent than I am. You would not wish for any teacher at your College as a Mathematician beyond the higher questions of alegbra, and with competent knowledge of the fluxionary calculus. I think such a person might be found in America. In England the Mathematicians are not eminent, & if you were to procure a frenchman, he wd not be able to convey his knowledge.

However, tell me what enquiries I shall make; how I shall proceed, & in brief how I shall serve you. Wherever I go, if indeed I do go from Philadelphia, I must go where I can take a house; for my family consisting of a wife, three young Children & my wife’s Sister, I must have room to turn round.

I have a strong Opinion that Richmond might build a hospital to furnish Subjects for anatomical demonstration and Clinical Lectures, & then establish a medical school. I greatly wonder your State has never had this in contemplation. I have not suggested this Idea yet; for I want to see Richmond before I mature it.

M. Correa, proposes visiting you at Montecello, in October. Believe me always your faithful & obliged friend.

Thomas Cooper

RC (ViU: TJP); endorsed by TJ as received 6 Oct. 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

quæ ipso usu consumuntur: “which are consumed by the use itself” (John W. Jones, A Translation of all the Greek, Latin, Italian, and French Quotations which occur in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England [London, 1823], 2:120).

1Manuscript: “adverstisement.”

2TJ extracted a slightly variant version of the preceding two sentences in his Notes on Thomas Cooper and the University of Virginia, [ca. 3 Oct. 1820].

Index Entries

  • anatomy; collegiate education in search
  • Bassett, Burwell; and College of William and Mary search
  • botany; collegiate education in search
  • Central College; professors for search
  • chemistry; collegiate education in search
  • classics; collegiate education in search
  • Cooper, Elizabeth Pratt Hemming (Thomas Cooper’s wife); mentioned search
  • Cooper, Thomas; academic career of search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and Central College search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and university curriculum search
  • Cooper, Thomas; family of search
  • Cooper, Thomas; letters from search
  • Cooper, Thomas; library and scientific apparatus of search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; proposed visit of search
  • Cuvier, Georges; works of search
  • education, collegiate; T. Cooper on search
  • education; classical search
  • education; French language search
  • education; in Va. search
  • education; Latin search
  • French language; collegiate education in search
  • Hare, Robert; as university professor search
  • Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertèbres (Lamarck) search
  • Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de; Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertèbres search
  • Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de; works of search
  • Latin language; collegiate education in search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • medicine; collegiate education in search
  • mineralogy; collegiate education in search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Corrêa da Serra, José search
  • Pennsylvania, University of search
  • political economy; study of search
  • schools and colleges; University of Pennsylvania search
  • Varro (pseudonym); as classics professor search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • William and Mary, College of; faculty of search
  • zoology; collegiate education in search