Thomas Jefferson Papers

Franklin G. Smith to Thomas Jefferson, 23 November 1818

From Franklin G. Smith

Powelton. Ga. 23. Nov. 1818.

To the Hon. Thos. Jefferson Esquire.

A long life devoted to the advancement of his country’s welfare induces his countrymen to beleive that Mr. Jefferson is not indifferent to any thing connected with it. It is in this confidence that a young man of 20 years takes the liberty of laying before Him a design for the improvement of the Printing Press. If to Mr. Jefferson the plan appears useless he will conclude so by His silence; but if otherwise may he be permitted to beg an expression of that opinion?

Most Respectfully.

F. G. Smith

RC (MiU-C: Thomas Jefferson Collection); on a sheet folded to form four pages, with enclosed drawing on p. 1, letter on p. 2, text of enclosure on p. 3, and address on p. 4; addressed: “His Excellency Mr. Jefferson. Monticello. Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Powelton, 23 Nov.; endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Smith F. G. B.” received 6 Dec. 1818 and so recorded in SJL.

Franklin Gillette Smith (1797–1866), clergyman and educator, was born in Benson, Rutland County, Vermont. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1817 and studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1819–20. Smith taught for a time in Georgia and in Prince Edward County before settling in Lynchburg, where he provided instruction, was ordained as an Episcopal minister in 1823, served as rector of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church beginning about 1824, and opened a girls’ school in 1829 with the eventual assistance of his wife. In 1837 they moved to Columbia, Tennessee, where Smith published a family magazine called the Guardian and headed the Columbia Female Institute, 1838–52. In the latter year he founded his own girls’ school there, the Columbian Athenæum. During the Civil War Smith served in the Confederate home guard. He continued as the Athenæum’s principal until his death (William A. Smith, Rev. Franklin Gillette Smith, Founder of the Columbia Athenæum [1897]; Thomas Scott Pearson, Catalogue of the Graduates of Middlebury College [1853], 49; Edgar J. Wiley, comp., Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Middlebury College [1917], 45; Semi-Centennial Catalogue of the Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey [1862], 13; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1830, Tenn., Maury Co., 1840–60; gravestone inscription in Rose Hill Cemetery, Columbia, Tenn.).

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