Thomas Jefferson Papers

Emile de Vendel to Thomas Jefferson, 5 January 1821

From Emile de Vendel

Newburgh Jany–5th. 1821.—


Having understood that a college is about to be established in Virginia under your Patronage and that it will embrace a Professorship of the French language, I beg leave to enquire of you (if the above is correct) whether a selection of a Professor of the French language has been made; I am anxious to offer myself as a candidate for the office, and trust that satisfactory testimonials of my character and abilities can be produced.

I am a native of France; I have been in this country five years, and when I left home, was honored with recommendatory letters, among others from the Marquis La fayette to Mr. Monroe, now President of the United States, and to Mr Crawford, Secretary of the treasury.

May I ask of you the favor of informing me whether there is a vacancy in the office and in the college above alluded to.—

With Sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, Your most obedt Servt.—
 de Vendel
(Newburgh, Orange County, N.Y. State)

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Jan. 1821 and so recorded in SJL; with FC of TJ to de Vendel, 30 Jan. 1821, on verso.

Emile (Emilius) de Vendel (ca. 1793–1857) was born in Paris. While young he served as a secretary in Napoleon’s army, and he was later in the National Guard. After the emperor’s exile to Elba in 1814, de Vendel joined three other young men in covertly delivering him despatches, for which service Napoleon personally thanked them after his escape from that island. With the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, however, de Vendel was imprisoned for six months. He afterwards moved to the United States, arriving in New York City late in 1815. The next year his wife opened a boarding school in Schenectady, which she moved to Newburgh in 1820. By 1828 de Vendel lived in Huntsville, Alabama, where he was a manager of the Huntsville Theatre. His home was also the site of a female academy until he moved permanently to Mobile County around 1832. There his wife continued to run a boarding school for girls. De Vendel owned nine slaves in 1850 (Gulf States Historical Magazine 1 [1903]: 333–6; [de Vendel], Liberté Individuelle sous le Regne des Bourbons [Paris, 1815]; New York Commercial Advertiser, 28 Nov. 1815; Albany Advertiser, 28 Sept. 1816; New York Mercantile Advertiser, 23 May 1820; Louisville Public Advertiser, 23 July 1828; Huntsville Southern Advocate, 23 June 1832; Pensacola Gazette, 23 May 1840; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ala., Huntsville, 1830, Mobile Co., 1840, 1850, 1850 slave schedules; Mobile Co. Will Book, 3:1–3; Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion 13 [1857]: 399).

Lafayette recommended de Vendel to James monroe and William H. crawford from La Grange in separate letters dated 8 Oct. 1815 (NN: Monroe Papers; ICU).

Index Entries

  • Crawford, William Harris; as secretary of the treasury search
  • de Vendel, Emile (Emilius); identified search
  • de Vendel, Emile (Emilius); letter from search
  • de Vendel, Emile (Emilius); seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • French language; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de; introduces E. de Vendel search
  • Monroe, James; letters of introduction to search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search