Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 10 November 1818

To William Short

Monticello Nov. 10. 18.

Dear Sir

Altho’ become averse to the taking up my pen, I cannot suffer myself to be entirely forgotten by my friends, and therefore must occasionally recall myself to their recollection. I am just now recovering from an illness of three months, not yet having left the house, altho I hope within a few days to be able to do so.1 abandoning all attention to the march of the political machine the only thing public which now employs my care is the establishment of the College which I formerly mentioned to you. this is become the more worthy of our concern as it is likely to be adopted by the state as the University of Virginia. Commissioners appointed by their authority have recommended the site of the Central college as the properest for that of the University, and have reported an Outline of what the institution should be. this supposes 10. professors necessary to embrace the whole circle of useful sciences, & we shall exert ourselves to procure them of the ablest which America or Europe can furnish.2 15,000.D. a year are vested in the institution, & it is believed that as much or more will be still added. instead of3 a single large building, we make it an Academical village in which every Professor will have a house to himself. two of these are nearly ready, and as many will be erected the next summer as workmen can be procured to execute. we look forward with pleasure to this great literary addition to our society, and to the attraction it will excite for other settlers for the benefit of educating their families. we mean that our buildings, altho’ small, shall be models of chaste architecture.   My illness having prevented my visiting Bedford this fall, I expect to pass most of the next summer and autumn there. I hope that your silence has not, as mine, proceeded from ill health, and pray you to be assured of my constant & affectionate friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViW: TJP); at foot of text: “Mr Short”; endorsed by Short as received 16 Nov. PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover to “The President of the United States”; edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ.

Short was presumably responsible for a letter from “A. B.” to John Binns as editor of the Philadelphia Democratic Press that quoted from and summarized the above letter’s comments on TJ’s improved health and his plans for the University of Virginia and was widely copied or abstracted in contemporary newspapers. Having begun by saying that he wrote “to relieve the anxiety of the public mind” regarding TJ’s health, “A. B.” concluded that “It is pleasing to see this Nestor of our worthies indulging himself in this rational solace of his old age, and hope he will live to see the University flourishing within the view of his Monticello” (Philadelphia Democratic Press, 19 Nov. 1818; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 23 Nov. 1818; and elsewhere).

1Preceding two sentences quoted in newspapers cited above.

2Preceding eight words quoted in newspapers cited above.

3Remainder of sentence quoted in newspapers cited above, with “College” substituted for “village.”

Index Entries

  • Binns, John; and PhiladelphiaDemocratic Press search
  • Democratic Press (Philadelphia newspaper) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; publication of papers search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; illness of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Rockfish Gap Report of the University of Virginia Commissioners search
  • Nestor (mythological character); TJ compared to search
  • newspapers; PhiladelphiaDemocratic Press search
  • Philadelphia; Democratic Press search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visits to search
  • Short, William; and TJ’s health search
  • Short, William; letters to search
  • Short, William; publication of correspondence with TJ search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; as academical village search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; progress of search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; commissioners’ report search