Thomas Jefferson Papers

Ferdinand R. Hassler to Thomas Jefferson, 10 December 1819

From Ferdinand R. Hassler

New Ark: New Jersey December 10th 1819.

Most Excellent Sir

Informed that the Institution of Learning to be established in Virginia, in the Conduction of which Your Excellency has a share, will soon come into activity; I take the Liberty to address myself to You with the offer, to take upon me the Branch of Mathematics, or that of natural Philosophy, if any one of them should not yet be filled.

I have heretofore tought Mathematics at the military Academy of Westpoint, partly under Your Presidency, and after that both Mathematics & Natural Philosophy at the Union College in Schenectady,

The latter place I left for my mission from Government to London for procuring the necessary Instruments for the Survey of the Coast, which a Law of Congress has suspended.

Circumstances of a peculiar Nature occasioned me to retire from the work of the Boundary line of the 45.° Parallel to which the President appointed me after the suspension of the Coast Survey, which Circumstances are satisfactorily ascertained not to lay in any fault on my side, but would be too long here to mention.

For Informations upon the manner in which I discharged the Duties of my former professorships I take the Liberty to refer to the War Department, as relates to Westpoint, and as relates to Schenectady to the honble Judge Yates of that place, and the other Gentlemen trustees of the College, and I have reason to expect that they will be satisfactory.

I am yet furnished with a Library in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, which I believe I may call valuable, and of which I might have the honor to forward You a catalogue on desire; I have also yet some philosophical Apparatus, and am in daily Expectation of a set of mathematical Instruments from Mr Troughton in London, on my private Account, all which objects might become usefull in the new Institution.

I take the Liberty to request Your Kind Interest in my behalf for such a Professorship in the intended Institution, if You should think my services acceptable in it, and would be very thankfull for the Kindness of an answer if I could form some Expectation of Success in the Election, upon Your direction I would do such steps towards it, as might be appropriated,1 and in case have the honor to pay You a visit to give verbally any further Informations that might be desired.

Please to accept my gratefull acknowledgements for the Kind patronage with which You have honored me formerly, on the Recomandation of Robert Patterson Esqre of Philadelphia, upon whose friendly testimony in my respect I take yet the Liberty to refer at present

I have the honor to be with profound respect and peculiar Esteem.

Your Excellency’s Most obedt & most humble Servant

F: R: Hassler

RC (ViU: TJP); dateline beneath signature; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Dec. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC: left half of address cover only (MHi), with PoC of TJ to Alexander Hepburn, 20 May 1820, on verso; right half of address cover only (MHi), with PoC of TJ to Joel Yancey, 20 May 1820, on verso; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Monticello Charlotte Ville Virginia”; franked; postmarked Newark, N.J., 10 Dec.

Hassler stopped work on the boundary line of the 45.° parallel in the spring of 1819 following conflicts with federal officials relating to his salary and proposed methods for determining latitude (Florian Cajori, The Chequered Career of Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, First Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey [1929], 94–105). For the recomandation, see Robert Patterson to TJ, 2 Dec. 1815.

1Thus in manuscript, with “appropriate” probably intended.

Index Entries

  • Congress, U.S.; activities of search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; and U.S. boundary lines search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; and U.S. Coast Survey search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; letters from search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • latitude; and U.S. boundary lines search
  • mathematics; books on search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • Monroe, James; and appointments search
  • natural philosophy; books on search
  • natural philosophy; collegiate education in search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Patterson, Robert; and F. R. Hassler’s claim search
  • schools and colleges; Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.) search
  • scientific instruments; for University of Virginia search
  • surveying; and U.S. boundaries search
  • surveying; U.S. Coast Survey search
  • Troughton, Edward; scientific-instrument maker search
  • Union College (Schenectady, N.Y.); faculty of search
  • United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.); faculty of search
  • Virginia, University of; Books and Library; professors’ libraries search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; scientific instruments for search
  • Yates, Joseph C.; as reference for F. R. Hassler search