Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jared Mansfield to Thomas Jefferson, 26 January 1821

From Jared Mansfield

West-Point Jany 26th 1821


The Superintendent, Officers, Professors, Instructors, & Cadets of the U. States’ Mil. Academy, impressed, with a high sense of the great services, you have rendered the Nation, & that this Institution, with which they are connected, originated under Your patronage, & presidency, are anxious for some special, & appropriate memorial of your person, which may descend to posterity. They have already in the Academic Library the portraits of the Great Washington the Founder of Our Republic, & of Col. Williams the first Chief of the Mil. Academy, & they wish to add yours to the number, as being alike one of the Founders, & Patrons of both.

Presuming on Your goodness, they have already engaged one of the best Portrait Painters of our Country (Mr Sully of Philadelphia) to wait on You for that purpose, whenever it may suit your convenience.

May I request, Sir, that you would gratify us by sitting to him for your picture, & that you would signify to me as acting in behalf of my Colleagues, the time when Mr Sully may be permitted to attend you for that purpose.

I am with the most profound respect, Your Obedt & devotd, humbl1 Sert
Jared Mansfield
Profr at Mil. Acady

RC (NWM: Mansfield Papers); endorsed by TJ as received 8 Feb. 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

Jared Mansfield (1759–1830), mathematician, surveyor, and educator, was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Yale College (later Yale University) in the class of 1777 but was expelled during his senior year for misconduct. In 1786 Mansfield became rector of New Haven’s Hopkins Grammar School, and Yale eventually awarded him a master’s degree in 1787. He resigned from Hopkins in 1790 but returned a few months later and continued as its head until 1795. Mansfield afterwards taught briefly in Philadelphia before returning to lead a private school in New Haven. In 1801 he published Essays, Mathematical and Physical: containing New Theories and Illustrations of some very Important and Difficult Subjects of the Sciences. Never Before Published (New Haven, [1801]; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3733). This ambitious work brought Mansfield to the attention of TJ, who in 1802 appointed him captain of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy. Mansfield left West Point the following year when TJ appointed him surveyor general of the United States, a position he held until 1812 and during which time he lived in Marietta and Cincinnati while he surveyed Ohio and the Northwest Territory. He was promoted to major in 1805 and lieutenant colonel in 1808 before resigning his army commission in 1810. President James Madison appointed Mansfield professor of experimental and natural philosophy at West Point in 1812, and after being diverted to supervise the construction of fortifications during the War of 1812, he taught there from 1814 until resigning in 1828. Mansfield moved thereafter to Cincinnati. He died during a visit to New Haven (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Dexter, Yale Biographies, 3:644, 691–4; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 37:131–2, 348–9, 40:410–2; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:422, 424, 453, 455, 2:22, 69, 301 [27 Apr., 3 May 1802, 11, 15 Nov. 1803, 24 Feb. 1806, 19 Feb. 1808, 9 Nov. 1812]; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, repr. 1994, 2 vols. description ends , 1:688; The Centennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. 1802–1902 [1904], 2:53–4, 63; Hartford Connecticut Courant, 9 Feb. 1830; New-York Morning Herald, 13 Feb. 1830).

1Manuscript: “hunbl.”

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; T. Sully’s paintings search
  • Mansfield, Jared; as professor at U.S. Military Academy search
  • Mansfield, Jared; identified search
  • Mansfield, Jared; letter from search
  • Sully, Thomas; portraits of TJ by search
  • United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.); founding of search
  • United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.); portraits at search
  • Washington, George; portraits of search
  • Williams, Jonathan; and U.S. Military Academy search