Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas McAuley, 14 June 1819

To Thomas McAuley

Monticello June 14. 19.


Your favor of May 19. has been recieved, but of the subject it respects I know nothing. I have heard of the Alpha, Phi, Beta and Kappa society, but never understood either it’s location or object. when I was a student of Wm & Mary college of this state there existed a society called the F.H.C. society, confined to the number of six students only, of which I was a member, but it had no useful object, nor do I know whether it now exists. Accept my salutations and assurances of respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViW: TJP). RC (Heritage Auction Galleries, Dallas, 2008); address cover only; addressed: “Mr Thomas McAuley of Union College New York”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 17 June; endorsed in an unidentified hand.

The f.h.c. society was a secret literary or fraternal society established by students at the College of William and Mary on 11 Nov. 1750 and active into the 1770s. While the initials may have stood for indeterminate Latin words, the organization came to be more familiarly known as the “Flat Hat Club” (George P. Coleman, ed., The Flat Hat Club and the Phi Beta Kappa Society: Some New Light on their History [1916]; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 1st ser., 25 [1917]: 161–4; 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 , 1:338).

Index Entries

  • F.H.C. Society, College of William and Mary search
  • McAuley, Thomas; and Phi Beta Kappa Society search
  • McAuley, Thomas; letter to search
  • Phi Beta Kappa Society search
  • schools and colleges; literary and fraternal societies at search
  • William and Mary, College of; F.H.C. Society at search
  • William and Mary, College of; Phi Beta Kappa Society at search
  • William and Mary, College of; TJ attends search