Thomas Jefferson Papers

Rufus Woodward to Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1820

From Rufus Woodward

New-Haven Con. June 20th 1820.

Honored Sir,

Having heard that Professors are soon to be appointed in the Virginia University, & that you have a principal part in the management of its Concerns, I take the liberty of addressing a line to you, for the purpose of ascertaining what is your mode of proceeding in making these appointments. I am informed it is a practice in some parts of the Southern States [i]n such cases, to publish a request that candidates should themselves make application. Whether this has been done in regard to your University, I have not heard. I hope you will pardon me, Sir, for troubling you with a communication to me on the subject, should you have no objections. I am at present a tutor in Yale-College, & having a partiality for literary & scientific pursuits, I have thought that a situation in your University would accord very well with my inclinations. I say nothing at present of my preference as to the branches to be1 taught, it being my object rather to make enquiries, than to offer myself as a candidate.

With great respect I am, Sir, Your Obedt servt

Rufus Woodward

RC (ViU: TJP); torn at seal; endorsed by TJ as received 2 July 1820 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to George Watterston, 27 July 1820, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq. late President of the U. States Monticello Virginia”; stamped; postmarked New Haven, 20 June.

Rufus Woodward (1793–1823), educator, was born in Torringford (later a district of Torrington), Connecticut, and graduated from Yale College (later Yale University) in 1816. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, at his commencement he participated in a “Dialogue, on the Force of Flattery.” Following teaching stints in Stratford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, Woodward secured an appointment as a tutor at Yale in 1818 and served until his resignation late in 1822. Having long suffered from dyspepsia, he traveled to Europe in the summer of 1823 to further his education and restore his health. After visiting England, Scotland, and France, Woodward died in Edinburgh (Christian Spectator 7 [1825]: 113–26; Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Notices of Graduates of Yale College [1913], 15; Catalogue of the Members of the Connecticut Alpha of the ΦΒΚ [New Haven, 1818], 22; Norwich [Conn.] Courier, 25 Sept. 1816; Historical Register of Yale University 1701–1937 [1939], 554; Hartford Connecticut Mirror, 9 Feb. 1824; gravestone inscription in Saint Cuthbert’s churchyard, Edinburgh).

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • schools and colleges; Yale University search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Woodward, Rufus; identified search
  • Woodward, Rufus; letter from search
  • Woodward, Rufus; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Yale College (later Yale University); tutors at search