Thomas Jefferson Papers

Vachel Worthington and George W. Anderson to Thomas Jefferson, 10 May 1819

From Vachel Worthington and George W. Anderson

Transylvania University May 10th 1819.

Respected Sir.

We the undersigned having been appointed by the members of the Calliopean Society to inform You of your being unanimously elected an honorary member of said society, deem it essentially necessary to inform you of our motives, and intentions. They are purely literary and are designed exclusively for the promulgation of useful knowledge, uniting its members in the indissoluble bands of unity, concord, and brotherly love, and for preserving sacred and inviolate our federal and state Constitutions. Knowing our intentions to be pure, and conscious that the worth of any Society is estimated by the characters who compose it, we have thought proper to associate with ours, none but men distinguished for their literary acquirments, esteemed for their virtues, or reverenced for their piety; such a man as this can alone confer honor on our Society, and among this number we esteem You. Could you, (if ever you should visit the western country) make it convenient to attend our meetings, it will afford a heartfelt gratification, and pleasure to our Society

Respectfully Yours &c
Vachel Worthington } Actg
George W. Anderson Committee

RC (CSmH: JF-BA); entirely in an unidentified hand; endorsed by TJ as a letter received 30 May 1819 from “Vashel” Worthington and George W. Anderson, of “Transylva University,” and so recorded (as from “Worthington & Anderson Transylva Universy”) in SJL.

Vachel Worthington (1802–77), attorney and public official, was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky. He was educated in nearby Danville and at Transylvania University, and at the latter he gave a commencement “Oration on the Perpetuity of the Pleasures of Sensation” in 1822. Worthington then studied law in Lexington and was admitted to the bar. By the mid-1820s he settled in Cincinnati, where he had a long legal career. Worthington’s assets in real estate and personal property combined were valued at $100,000 in 1850, $206,000 in 1860, and, in conjunction with his second wife, $405,000 in 1870. An adherent successively of the Whig and Democratic parties, his only political office was a single term in the Ohio Senate, 1874–75. Worthington died of pneumonia in Cincinnati (History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio; their past and present [1894], 170–2; Order of Exercises at Commencement, Transylvania University, July 10th.......1822 [(Lexington, Ky., 1822)]; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends , 4:610–1; The Biographical Annals of Ohio, 1902–1903 [1902], 325; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ohio, Cincinnati, 1830–70; Cincinnati Daily Star, 9 July 1877; gravestone inscription in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati).

George Washington Anderson (d. ca. 1850), merchant, graduated from Transylvania University in 1821. His marriage that same year to Eleanor Murdock Hart brought him into contact with Henry Clay, who served for many years as a trustee of her property. The couple lived in and around Lexington until the 1830s, when they moved to Louisville. Anderson owned nineteen slaves in 1830 and five a decade later (Washington Gazette, 2 Aug. 1821; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends , esp. 3:117–8, 8:867, 9:837, 10:936–7; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ky., Fayette Co., 1830, Louisville, 1840, and entry in 1850 for wife and family).

On this day Worthington and Anderson sent James Madison a nearly identical letter (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:455–6).

Index Entries

  • Anderson, George Washington; and Calliopean Society of Transylvania University search
  • Anderson, George Washington; identified search
  • Anderson, George Washington; letter from search
  • Calliopean Society, Transylvania University search
  • Constitution, U.S.; mentioned search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); and Calliopean Society of Transylvania University search
  • Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.); Calliopean Society of search
  • Worthington, Vachel; and Calliopean Society of Transylvania University search
  • Worthington, Vachel; identified search
  • Worthington, Vachel; letter from search