Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin A. Gould, 25 September [1821]

To Benjamin A. Gould

Monticello Sep. 25.

Th: Jefferson returns thanks to mr Gould for the two numbers of his prizebook, which he has been so kind as to send him, and which he has read with great satisfaction. he is, with mr Gould, a zealous advocate for classical education, as a foundation for science and taste.   he thinks the essays of the prize-book, the effect of learning and [e]xperience, will convey useful advice to parents [and] tutors. the specimens of composition do honor to his school, and especially to the gentlemen who composed them. he salutes mr Gould with respect.

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Samuel Smith (of Maryland) to TJ, 26 Aug. 1820; partially dated, at foot of text; two words faint; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 25 Sept. 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1787–1859), educator and merchant, was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, and moved with his family to Newburyport as a boy. There he attended Dummer Academy and worked as a teacher before attending Harvard University, earning an A.B. degree in 1814. Even before graduating, Gould became master of the struggling Boston Public Latin School on the recommendation of Harvard University president John T. Kirkland. Gould proved to be an innovative and popular instructor and led the school until ill health caused him to resign in 1828. His students included Charles Francis Adams, Henry Ward Beecher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Sumner. Between 1826 and 1828 Gould also published annotated school editions of Ovid, Horace, and Virgil. After a period of travel and recuperation in Europe, he returned to Boston, traded with Calcutta as a merchant, and owned $7,000 worth of real estate in 1850. Gould served on the Boston School Committee, sat on the Boston Common Council, 1834–37, was the first president of the Latin School Association when it was organized in 1844, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1856. He visited TJ at Monticello in April 1825 and afterwards presented him with a plaster bust of John Adams. Gould died in Boston (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Ward W. Briggs Jr., ed., Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists [1994], 229; Henry F. Jenks, Catalogue of the Boston Public Latin School [1886], pt. 1, pp. 51–2, pt. 2, p. 8; Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 191; Stein, Worlds description begins Susan R. Stein, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, 1993 description ends , 229; DNA: RG 29, CS, Mass., Boston, 1850; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Book of Members, 1780–2005 [2006], 159; Boston Daily Advertiser, 26 Oct. 1859; gravestone inscription in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.).

Gould had been so kind as to send TJ the Prize Book of the Publick Latin School in Boston, nos. 1–2 (1820–21; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 6 [no. 226]; TJ’s copy in DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections).

Index Entries

  • classics; TJ on value of search
  • Gould, Benjamin Apthorp; andPrize Book of the Publick Latin School in Boston search
  • Gould, Benjamin Apthorp; identified search
  • Gould, Benjamin Apthorp; letter to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; classics search
  • Prize Book of the Publick Latin School in Boston search