Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Extract from Henry William DeSaussure to John Vaughan, [2 May 1820]


Extract from Henry William DeSaussure to John Vaughan

[Columbia, S.C., 2 May 1820]

“Ever1 since Dr Cooper has been here, he has performed the duties of his professor-ship—so ably & so faithfully, that there has been a Strong desire on the part of the Trustees who reside here to retain him altogether—That desire has been greatly increased by the pleasure derived from personal intercourse with him.

His mind is wonderfully Stored with learning & wisdom, communicated2 frankly, but modestly & unpresumingly—His whole deportment has been such as to give entire satisfaction, & to procure him many friends warmly attached to him—You know that we children of the Sun have warm feelings, ’tho’ mixed with many faults—The distant Trustees who attended the meetings of the board, soon learn’t the character of Dr Cooper & appreciated it—It was proposed to establish a professor-ship of mineralogy—& Geology, to annex it to that of Chemistry with a salary of 1000$ in addition to the 2000$ already given him—And the proposition was unanimously3 agreed to—

Dr Cooper himself prefered the Union of those studies to Chemistry, to any other which could be named—He has besides a good house furnished him free from rent—The salaries of our professors are paid quarterly, out of the State Treasury—”

Tr (MHi); dateline supplied from note at head of text: “Extract of a letter from Henry W DeSaussure to John Vaughan Philad—dated Columbia So Ca 2 May 1820”; with Vaughan’s signed attestation as a “true Extract” at foot of text, dated Philadelphia, 23 June 1820; conjoined with covering letter.

Henry William DeSaussure (1763–1839), attorney and public official, was born in Pocotaligo in Old Granville County (later Jasper County), South Carolina, and educated at private schools in Beaufort and Charleston. Having assisted in the defense of Charleston, he was captured when the city fell into British hands in May 1780, confined on a prison ship, and then sent north to Philadelphia for exchange. Following his arrival there, DeSaussure studied law under Jared Ingersoll and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1784. He returned to Charleston the following year and established a legal practice. A Federalist, defender of Low-Country interests, opponent of protective tariffs, and a Unionist during the Nullification crisis early in the 1830s, DeSaussure attended South Carolina’s 1790 constitutional convention and sat for seven terms in the state legislature between 1791 and 1808. He served briefly as director of the United States Mint in 1795 and was a presidential elector for John Adams the following year. DeSaussure sat on the five-person South Carolina Court of Equity, 1808–24, was one of two chancellors of the succeeding tribunal, the Court of Appeals in Equity, 1824–37, and published four volumes of court reports, 1817–19. A longtime supporter of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina), he was a member of its board of trustees, 1801–05 and 1808–37. Although DeSaussure moved to Columbia in 1812, he died during a visit to Charleston (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; BDSCHR description begins Walter B. Edgar and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1974– , 5 vols. description ends , 4:154–6; John Belton O’Neall, Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina [1859], 1:243–52; Walter Edgar, ed., The South Carolina Encyclopedia [2006], 260–1; Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914, repr. 1967 description ends , 195; Dorothy Twohig, ed., Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797 [1981], 331; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:194 [10 Dec. 1795]; Charleston Courier, 1 Apr. 1839; gravestone inscription in First Presbyterian Churchyard, Columbia).

1Omitted opening quotation mark editorially supplied.

2The word “freely” is here canceled.

3Manuscript: “unimously.”

Index Entries

  • chemistry; collegiate education in search
  • Cooper, Thomas (1759–1839); professor at South Carolina College search
  • DeSaussure, Henry William; and T. Cooper search
  • DeSaussure, Henry William; identified search
  • DeSaussure, Henry William; letter from, to J. Vaughan search
  • geology; collegiate education in search
  • mineralogy; collegiate education in search
  • South Carolina; treasury of search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); faculty at search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); trustees of search
  • Vaughan, John (1756–1841); and T. Cooper search
  • Vaughan, John (1756–1841); letter to, from H. W. DeSaussure search