Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Cooper to Thomas Jefferson, 3 May 1820

From Thomas Cooper

Columbia south Carolina May. 3. 1820

Dear sir

On monday last 1st instant, the board of Trustees of south Carolina College, at a regular meeting, (usually held here, during the courts of appeal in Law & Chancery, the Judges being Trustees) unanimously determined

That it should be proposed to and urged with the Legislature to appoint a Professorship of Geology and Mineralogy, or else a professorship of Law, with a Salary of 1000$ a year to be assigned to me in addition to my professorship of Chemistry which is 2000$.—

That if a Professorship of Geology & Mineralogy should be chosen, that it would be expedient to purchase my collection of minerals.

Little doubt is entertained of carrying this proposal with the Legislature; as they inform me without hesitation, that after what they have experienced of my conduct here as a lecturer & otherwise, it is the general wish witht any dissentient opinion, to retain me at all events. Whether the Legislature will think so likewise, remains to be determined.

I expect Mr Correa de Serra, will arrive at your house nearly on the receipt of this letter. I am infinitely indebted to the affectionate kindness of that respectable man, for the interest he has taken in my welfare. Pray communicate to him the information I now give you, because he will rejoice at the prospect of my being settled, even tho’ it be still open to accidents.

The 1500$ will nearly, not quite, cover my expences including my Journeys: but it suffices; it is right I should acknowledge the liberality of your board with thanks; I regret the storm that has been raised on my account, for it has separated me from many fond hopes and wishes. Whatever my religious creed may be, and perhaps I do not exactly know it myself, it is pleasure to reflect, that my conduct has not brought, & is not likely to bring discredit on my friends. Wherever I have been, it has been my good fortune to meet with or to make, ardent and affectionate friends; I feel persuaded I should have met with the same lot in Virginia, had it been my chance to have settled there as I hoped and expected, for I think my course of conduct is sufficiently habitual, to count upon its effects.1 At all events, I owe to you my most grateful thanks and affectionate good wishes: & it will be my pride and my children’s pride, that I have earned and received the respect and attention of the first man the Country can now boast. I hope you will yet live many pleasant and useful years: serus in cælum redeas.

Mr Walsh has begun a malignant & wicked career: he openly calls for a renewal of the Missouri question, and sounds the tocsin of disunion. The good sense of the nation will put him down.

Adieu. my most respectful sentiments, & kindest wishes attend you always.

Thomas Cooper

RC (ViU: TJP); endorsed by TJ as received 13 May 1820 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Fernagus De Gelone, 22 June 1820, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq Montecello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Columbia, S.C., 4 May.

serus in cælum redeas: “long before you return to heaven” (Horace, Odes, 1.2.45, in Horace: Odes and Epodes, trans. Niall Rudd, Loeb Classical Library [2004], 28–9). At the urging of prominent Philadelphia abolitionists, Robert walsh and William Fry began publishing the Philadelphia National Gazette and Literary Register as an antislavery newspaper in the spring of 1820. In its first issue they argued that prohibiting slavery in the state of Missouri would be constitutional and not endanger the Union (Mary Frederick Lochemes, Robert Walsh: His Story [1941], 116–7; Philadelphia National Gazette and Literary Register, 5 Apr. 1820).

1TJ quotes from “it is right” to this point in his 16 May 1820 letter to Robert Taylor and Chapman Johnson.

Index Entries

  • Cooper, Thomas; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and Missouri question search
  • Cooper, Thomas; letters from search
  • Cooper, Thomas; professor at South Carolina College search
  • Cooper, Thomas; religious beliefs of criticized search
  • Cooper, Thomas; University of Virginia professorship proposed for search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and T. Cooper search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; proposed visit of search
  • Fry, William; publisher ofNational Gazette and Literary Register search
  • Horace; quoted by T. Cooper search
  • mineralogy; collections of minerals search
  • Missouri question; newspapers discuss search
  • National Gazette and Literary Register (Philadelphia newspaper); and Missouri question search
  • newspapers; PhiladelphiaNational Gazette and Literary Register search
  • Philadelphia; National Gazette and Literary Register search
  • religion; and University of Virginia search
  • South Carolina; legislature search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); faculty at search
  • Virginia, University of; Board of Visitors; and faculty recruitment search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty compensation search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; T. Cooper as proposed professor search
  • Walsh, Robert; and Missouri question search
  • Walsh, Robert; editor ofNational Gazette and Literary Register search