Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Peter Laporte, 6 May [1819]

To Peter Laporte

Monticello May 6.


The Latin school, preparatory to the University will be opened in Charlottesville on Monday the 17th. about 15. or 20. boys will be ready to enter on that day, and the school will increase rapidly afterwards. not a single boarding house is prepared in Charlottesville and the whole of the scholars will enter with you at once, and will expect to be boarded by you at 120.D. the year, one half payable in advance, which according to known prices here will give you one half as profit for your trouble. we have engaged for you very roomly buildings in Charlottesville1 which will accomodate a considerable number at a rent of about 200.D. I think you have not a moment to lose in coming as the distress for board will otherwise produce other boarding houses into which the boys must enter of necessity. Mr Stack the teacher has been here some time and the opening of the school was kept back in expectation that you would have been here the beginning [of the?] month. be so good as, immediately on reciept of this, to write me on [the] earliest day we may expect you. I salute you with esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC: TJ Papers, 215:38387); on verso of reused address cover of Reuben G. Beasley to TJ, 28 Sept. 1818; partially dated; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 6 May 1819 and so recorded in SJL; mutilated at seal; at foot of text: “Mr La Porte.”

Peter Laporte (b. ca. 1773), innkeeper and inventor, was a native of France who operated a tavern at Jennings Gap in Augusta County in 1818 that TJ judged to be “very good.” He owned eight slaves in 1810, but only two a decade later and none in 1830. TJ facilitated Laporte’s transfer in 1819 to Charlottesville to run a boardinghouse, where only French would be spoken, for students attending Gerard E. Stack’s preparatory school. The failure of the Charlottesville Academy in 1820, however, caused him to leave town. Between 1821 and 1830 Laporte lived in Augusta and Louisa counties, Richmond, and Georgetown, and he obtained patents for a bridle “for stopping horses when running away,” an improved bridle, a new type of mailbag, “a beautiful and robber proof travelling trunk,” and an innovative fabric made out of flax and wire (TJ’s Notes on Inns Between Staunton and Warm Springs, [after 6 Aug. 1818], document 1 in a group of documents on Jefferson’s Trip to Warm Springs, 6 Aug. 1818; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , esp. 2:1355, 1360; Laporte to TJ, 28 July 1819; TJ to Thomas Cooper, 4 July 1820; TJ to Victoire Laporte, 20 Apr. 1821; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 224, 242, 268, 361, 418; Haverhill, Mass., Gazette & Patriot, 17 Apr. 1824; Hartford Connecticut Courant, 21 Sept. 1824; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 1 Sept. 1828; DNA: RG 29, CS, Augusta Co., 1810, Albemarle Co., 1820, D.C., Georgetown, 1830).

roomly: “spacious; capacious” (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 ).

A missing letter from Alexander Laporte to TJ of 11 May 1819 is recorded in SJL as received 15 May 1819 from Calf Pasture in Augusta County.

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Charlottesville Academy; and G. E. Stack search
  • Charlottesville Academy; opening of search
  • Laporte, Alexander; letter from accounted for search
  • Laporte, Peter; identified search
  • Laporte, Peter; letters to search
  • Laporte’s boardinghouse (Charlottesville); charges for boarding at search
  • Laporte’s boardinghouse (Charlottesville); opening of search
  • Stack, Gerard E.; and Charlottesville Academy search