Thomas Jefferson Papers

Hugh Nelson to Thomas Jefferson, 2 February [1820]

From Hugh Nelson

City of Washington Feby 2d


The enclosed letter was handed to me some time since, by the French Gentleman named in it who avowed his design to be to wait upon you in reference to the object mentioned in the letter.1 as I did believe that you were much annoyed by applications of this Sort, I thought in this instance it might be as well to save you from the visit: I therefore told the Gentleman that I woud address a letter to you and enclose that of Mr Wilmer, and learn if it woud be worth his while to go up to Charlottesville on this subject—I told Mr Calvo also that I did believe that as yet there had been no determination to establish a professorship of modern Languages immediately in the University—If you think proper to furnish an answer to this application I will with pleasure give it to the Gentleman—

The Senate of the U.S. have determined by a Vote of 27 to 16 to reject the proposal to impose the restriction on Missouri—in the formation of her Constitution—The whole of the Senators except one, were present—The absentee, Mr Horsey of Deleware is understood to be against the restriction—So that in that Body our Interest is secured by a majority of 12—The fate of the proposition in the H.R. is more questionable. Thus far we are safe as to the restriction—But then what will be the success of the application of Missouri to be admitted as a state into the Union, is uncertain—The Senate have coupled Maine and Missouri together, and have thereby afforded us a better chance of carrying the measure in the House. We believe the Members from Maine, will sooner give up the restriction than lose their stand among the States of the Union—Accept the tender of my respects and believe me

yr obedt hble svt

Hugh Nelson

RC (MHi); partially dated; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 2 Feb. 1820 received four days later and so recorded in SJL.

On 6 Jan. 1820 the United States Senate Judiciary Committee reported an amendment to the Maine statehood bill authorizing Missouri to “form a constitution, &c., without restriction.” Nine days later Pennsylvania senator Jonathan Roberts proposed an additional amendment prohibiting the further introduction of enslaved persons into Missouri. This restriction failed by a vote of 27 to 16 on 1 Feb. 1820 (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 9:84, 104–5, 134; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. (All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. Citations given below are to the edition mounted on the American Memory website of the Library of Congress and give the date of the debate as well as page numbers.) description ends , 16th Cong., 1st sess., esp. 73–4, 119, 359).

1Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Calvo, John; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Horsey, Outerbridge; and Missouri question search
  • House of Representatives, U.S.; and Missouri question search
  • Maine; and Missouri question search
  • Missouri question; congressional consideration of search
  • Nelson, Hugh; and Missouri question search
  • Nelson, Hugh; and University of Virginia faculty applicants search
  • Nelson, Hugh; letters from search
  • Roberts, Jonathan (1771–1854); and Missouri question search
  • Senate, U.S.; and Missouri question search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; modern languages professorship search
  • Wilmer, William Holland; introduces J. Calvo search