Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Howell to Thomas Jefferson, 1 September 1819

From David Howell

Providence Sept. 1, 1819.

most esteemed Friend.

The object of this Letter is to introduce to your notice and patronage Mr Nathaniel Helme—the young Gentleman who will deliver it. He has received the degree of A.B. in our College this day. The President informs me that his character in College has no blot—that he has taken no wrong Step—and that he believe him incapable of taking a false Step in future wilfully—that he is well qualified to teach Latin and Greek in particular, having a taste for the Study of Languages—and that his standing in his Class, with regard to other parts of classic learning, was very respectable—

His Father the Hon. James Helme was one of your Electers in this State. His private virtues, his Social and benevolent feelings and his political principles & conduct1 makes him an ornament to Human nature. So fair is his character that I believe he has no personal enemy—and I am told that this Son inherits his fathers virtues.

I desire to present to you the assurance of the continuance of my most grateful recollection of the former notices with which you have honoured me: and pray2 that Heaven may protract your life, usefulness and happiness here to a very late day and then give you a Serene and peaceful passage to the abodes of the blessed.

your real Friend

D. Howell

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Th: Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 1 Sept. 1820 received 7 Nov. 1820 and so recorded (with additional notation: “by mr Helm”) in SJL.

Nathaniel Helme (1797–1822), teacher, was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. He graduated from Brown University in 1819 and began service shortly thereafter as a tutor in the family of Thomas Read, of Charlotte County, Virginia. In 1820 Helme traveled with Read’s son through Virginia, where the two saw Natural Bridge and visited TJ and James Madison. At the time of his death Helme was teaching at an academy in his native town (Brown University Catalogue description begins Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764–1904, 1905 description ends , 126; Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:533–4, 2:139; Helme’s Account of a Visit to Monticello, [7 Nov. 1820]; Providence Patriot, 2 Nov. 1822).

Asa Messer was president of Brown University (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Helme, James; family of search
  • Helme, Nathaniel; identified search
  • Helme, Nathaniel; introduced to TJ search
  • Howell, David; introduces N. Helme search
  • Howell, David; letters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Messer, Asa; as president of Brown University search