Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 26 February 1818

To Joseph C. Cabell

Monticello Feb. 26. 18.

Dear Sir

Your two favors of the 20. & 22. came to hand last night. I congratulate you sincerely on having something begun on the subject of education. whatever be it’s faults, they will lead to correction. you seem to doubt whether mr Madison would serve if named a Commissioner for the location Etc of the University? but there can be no doubt that he would, & it is most important that he should. as to myself, I should be ready to do any thing in my power for the institution. but that is not the exact question. would it promote the success of the institution most for me to be in or out of it? out of it I believe. it is still to depend ultimately on the will of the legislature, and that has it’s uncertainties. there are fanatics both in religion and politics who without knowing me personally have long been taught to consider me as a rawhead & bloody bones. and as we can afford to lose no votes in that body I do think it would be better that you should be named for our district. do not consider this as mock-modesty, it is the cool & deliberate act of my1 judgment. I believe the institution would be more popular without me than with me; and this is the most important consideration: and I am confident you would be a more efficient member of that body than I should. do then, Dear Sir, act on this subject without any scruples as to me or yourself. regard nothing but the good of the cause. affectionately yours

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “Joseph C. Cabell esq. of The Senate of Virginia now in Richmond”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 28 Feb.; endorsed by Cabell. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Richard Bache to TJ, 3 Jan. 1818; mutilated at seal, with two words rewritten by TJ; endorsed by TJ.

rawhead & bloody bones: nursery bugbears used to terrify children (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and University of Virginia Commission search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters to search
  • Central College; establishment of search
  • education; in Va. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; and University of Virginia Commission search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); as University of Virginia commissioner search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; commissioners search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search