Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Baker, 19 January 1821

To John Wayles Baker

Monticello Jan. 19. 21.

Dear Wayles

Yours of Dec. 8. came safely to hand and I was glad to learn you were seated at Columbia. that institution will have sustained a great loss in mr Elliot; but I still think you will be better there than1 any where else that I know of. with respect to your pursuits I cannot advise them with precision; because I do not know whether you are so far advanced in classic science as that you may withdraw from that school. I may say however in general that the object of the first importance you have to acquire is the French language, and the 2d Mathematics, Astronomy and Natural philosophy. I do not know how far the rules of your college will permit you to divide your time among the classes which teach these particular articles; but it is so much the right of the parent, and not of the faculty, to say what the student shall learn & what he shall not, that I presume the rules of your college say the same thing. you know my difficulty of writing, and will therefore accept here the assurances of my affectionate attachment

Th: Jefferson

PoC (CSmH: JF); on verso of reused address cover of John Steele to TJ, 3 July 1819; at foot of text: “J. W. Baker”; endorsed by TJ.

South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) sustained a great loss when Stephen Elliott resigned its presidency shortly after his election. Thomas Cooper was then chosen as president pro tem, an appointment that later became permanent (New York American, 3 Jan. 1821).

1Manuscript: “thant.”

Index Entries

  • astronomy; collegiate education in search
  • Baker, John Wayles (TJ’s grandnephew); education of search
  • Baker, John Wayles (TJ’s grandnephew); letter to search
  • Baker, John Wayles (TJ’s grandnephew); TJ’s relationship with search
  • Cooper, Thomas (1759–1839); president of South Carolina College search
  • education, collegiate; TJ on search
  • Elliott, Stephen; and South Carolina College search
  • French language; collegiate education in search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; fatiguing or painful to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; education search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • natural philosophy; collegiate education in search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); and J. W. Baker search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); president of search