Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 17 August 1821

To Louis H. Girardin

Monticello Aug. 17. 21.

Dear Sir

Your favor of Aug. 12. is duly recieved, covering the letter of mr Reynolds and some printed sheets containing solutions of Mathematical questions by him. these last I re-inclose presuming he would wish to keep possession of them. on the subject of Professors we are unable to say a word. the University has contracted a great debt, by permission of the legislature, for the repayment of which it’s annual funds are hypothecated. it will require these for many years to pay the debt, and so long the buildings must be shut up, unless the public take the debt off their hands.

The figures you speak of in my collection, cannot be Hindoo as you suppose. they must be Indian of our own continent as I possess no others.   I am not able to answer your enquiries as to Made De Riedesel. she was our near neighbor & very intimat[e] in our family; but we never had any correspondence after she left us; nor have I ever been informed of any letters written by her after she left us. in passing thro’ Hesse myself about the year 1786. I heard that herself & the Baron were both then living. I thank you for your kind enquiries about my health. I consider it as quite reestablished, and as good as I have a right to expect at the age of 78. I am glad to learn that your College goes on well. the general possession of science in America is the interest of every American.   I salute you with best wishes for your health and assurances of great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); with ending of one word lost due to polygraph misalignment; at foot of text: “Mr Girardin.” PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of James Breckinridge to TJ, 28 Sept. 1820; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: mathematical solutions enclosed in Girardin to TJ, 12 Aug. 1821.

On this day a Lynchburg newspaper published an article discussing the controversial issuance of a 3 Apr. 1821 patent to the heirs of Anthony Rucker for his much-earlier “invention of the James River Batteaux,” small boats which had come into widespread use on that river carrying tobacco hogsheads to market, and stated that “Mr. Jefferson we understand is prepared to give his testimony in favor of the ancestor of the Patentees, and it is said was a spectator of the launch of the first boat of the kind ever used on James River, and which occurred somewhere in Albemarle.” TJ had in fact noted on 29 Apr. 1775 that “Rucker’s battoe is 50.f. long. 4.f. wide in the bottom & 6.f. at top. She carries 11. hhds. & draws 13½ I. water” (Lynchburg Press, 17 Aug. 1821; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 1:394; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 225).

Index Entries

  • Baltimore College search
  • boats; bateaux search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and Baltimore College search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and University of Virginia search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; letters to search
  • Indians, American; artifacts of, at Monticello search
  • James River; bateaux on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; science, American search
  • Literary Fund; and loans for University of Virginia search
  • mathematics; University of Virginia professorship of search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Entrance Hall search
  • patents; for bateaux search
  • Reynolds, Owen; mathematical solutions by search
  • Reynolds, Owen; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Riedesel, Frederika Charlotte Louise, baroness von; inquiries about search
  • Riedesel, Friedrich Adolph, baron von; inquiries about search
  • Rucker, Anthony; and bateaux search
  • schools and colleges; Baltimore College search
  • science; TJ on search
  • Virginia, University of; Administration and Financial Affairs; funding for search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; and General Assembly search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; mathematics professorship search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search