Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Robert Patterson, 14 March 1819

To Robert Patterson

Monticello Mar. 14. 19.

I thank you, dear Sir, for your book of Arithmetic. it happens, by the division into two parts to coincide with two branches of the triple grade of education I am endeavoring to inculcate with the legislators of our state. I propose 1.1 that there shall be a primary school in every ward of every county, having a sufficient number of children to make up a school. 2. a college in every district of about 80. miles square, which would place every father within a day’s ride of his son at College. 3. an University. in the 1st every citizen to be taught reading, writing, & elementary arithmetic; in the 2d Greek, Latin, French and the higher branches of numerical arithmetic. in the 3d the higher branches of science. the division of your book is adapted to the 1st & 2d grades, except that it may be proper to go further in the 2d part into the rationale of the subjects, as this grade of education is as much as the great body of our midling class of citizens would wish to acquire.2 the book will therefore be generally useful to others, & particularly so to us.

I cordially congratulate you on the proof lately given by our society of the estimation in which they hold you, & which you have so long and so eminently merited, and I salute you with constant and affectionate respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (CtY: Franklin Collection); addressed: “Doctr Robert Patterson President of the A. Philosoph. society Philadelphia”; franked; postmarked Milton, 16 Mar. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of otherwise unlocated letter from William J. Coffee to TJ, 14 Dec. 1818 (addressed: “To Thos Jefferson Esqr Montecelo near Charlots-Vill State of Virgina”; franked; postmarked New York, 18 Dec; recorded in SJL as received 28 Dec. 1818); mutilated at seal; endorsed by TJ.

The American Philosophical Society had given a proof of its high regard for Patterson on 1 Jan. 1819 by electing him its president (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes [MS in PPAmP]).

1Number interlined.

2Word interlined in place of “go.”

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; R. Patterson as president of search
  • A Treatise of Practical Arithmetic, intended for the Use of Schools; in two parts (R. Patterson) search
  • books; on mathematics search
  • books; school textbooks search
  • education, collegiate; TJ on search
  • education; elementary search
  • education; French language search
  • education; Latin search
  • education; textbooks search
  • education; TJ on search
  • French language; collegiate education in search
  • Greek language; collegiate education in search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books and Library; receives works search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; education search
  • Latin language; collegiate education in search
  • mathematics; books on search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • mathematics; elementary education in search
  • Patterson, Robert; and American Philosophical Society search
  • Patterson, Robert; A Treatise of Practical Arithmetic, intended for the Use of Schools; in two parts search
  • Patterson, Robert; letters to search
  • reading; elementary education in search
  • schools and colleges; elementary search
  • schools and colleges; textbooks for search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • writing; elementary education in search