Thomas Jefferson Papers

Robert Mayo to Thomas Jefferson, 28 March 1821

From Robert Mayo

Richmond March 28th 1821

I take the liberty of inclosing you a copy of the Rhyming Primer, & Spelling Book, with the view of procuring your concurrence with several other gentlemen in recommending1 them to the Commissioners of the Primary Schools of Virginia, should they meet your approbation.

I am daily expecting a Stereotype edition from New York, in which great improvements have been made, by extending the tables of Spelling and correcting the few literal errors that have occured in this edition. I inclose you the original signitures of Judge Marshall, Govr Randolf, and others, and would be greatly flattered if the list could be closed with your approbation.

Yrs very respectfully

R. Mayo

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 31 Mar. 1821 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Mayo, The Rhyming Spelling Book, for the use of Sunday Schools, Private Families, &c. calculated to lighten the task, and Accelerate the Progress of Children, in Spelling and Reading (Baltimore, 1819). Other enclosure not found.

Robert Mayo (1784–1864), physician and author, was born in Powhatan County and studied at the College of William and Mary in 1803. After receiving a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1808 with a dissertation on “the sensorium,” he spent time in Richmond and later in Philadelphia, where he wrote textbooks and practiced medicine. Returning to Richmond by 1821, Mayo published a short-lived newspaper, the Jackson Republican (1826–27). By 1830 he lived in Washington, where he held a postal clerkship and compiled The Pension Laws of the United States, including sundry Resolutions of Congress, from 1776 to 1833: Executed at the War Department (1838), and other works related to federal departments. Mayo eventually turned against Andrew Jackson, attacking his integrity in Political Sketches of Eight Years in Washington (1839). He died in Washington (Memorial Biographies of the New-England Historic Genealogical Society [1905], 6:48–52; William and Mary Provisional List description begins A Provisional List of Alumni, Grammar School Students, Members of the Faculty, and Members of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. From 1693 to 1888, 1941 description ends , 28; Will J. Maxwell, comp., General Alumni Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania [1917], 568; Kite’s Philadelphia Directory for 1814 [Philadelphia, 1814]; Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 10 vols. description ends , 8:643–7, 9:283–6; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 17 Oct. 1864).

1Manuscript: “recommeding.”

Index Entries

  • books; on spelling search
  • books; textbooks search
  • children; books for search
  • education; elementary search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Marshall, John; subscribes to book search
  • Mayo, Robert; identified search
  • Mayo, Robert; letters from search
  • Mayo, Robert; The Rhyming Spelling Book search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); and book subscriptions search
  • reading; elementary education in search
  • The Rhyming Spelling Book (R. Mayo) search
  • Virginia; and education search